Industry Voices—3 ways healthcare providers can take advantage of CMS’ reduced burdens

Doctor pausing with a frown on his face
Ensuring that healing environments are meeting and exceeding standards of patient care should not be a burden. (Getty/Wavebreakmedia)

It goes without saying that both regulation and accreditation are crucial to ensuring that healthcare providers and facilities uphold nationwide standards in patient care. While both hold healthcare providers accountable to their patients and community, strengthen patient safety and measure quality and safety of care, federal regulations require a great deal of physicians’ time—not to mention the looming penalties they could face if they fall short.

In fact, 81% of U.S. physicians in four common specialties reported that they spend more time and effort dealing with quality measures than three years ago, according to a recent report from Health Affairs. Only 27% of those surveyed said current measures represent the quality of care they provide.

Ensuring that healing environments are meeting and exceeding standards of patient care should not be a burden. CMS recently launched its “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative to identify what stakeholders consider burdensome in the healthcare environment. They found “3,040 mentions of burden,” which CMS then categorized as relating to “1,146 different issues.”

That’s why CMS proposed a rule to remove “unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome Medicare compliance requirements for healthcare facilities.” As the titular initiative states, it’s time to put our patients over paperwork.

Here are three ways to take advantage of CMS’ reduced burdens.

1. Make ambulatory care strategy a priority.

Hospitals must reconcile their focus on hospital-centered care to ambulatory-centered care as healthcare strategies move further into the acute-care space. CMS claims their new provisions will also “streamline hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgical center requirements for conducting comprehensive medical histories and physical assessments.”

RELATED: CMS promises to ‘restore the doctor-patient relationship’ with 2019 proposed rule

A healing environment that can provide all the services a patient needs in one (both physical or technological) space—from general specialists and physicians to telehealth advising and efficient follow-up care—will not only retain current clients but may also engage future patients via its ambulatory system.

2. Standardize systems across multiple hospitals.

As CMS notes, many of their new proposals will “simplify and streamline Medicare’s conditions of participation, conditions for coverage, and other requirements for participation for facilities.” This provision will allow facilities to more efficiently meet health and safety standards.

With efficiency at top of mind, additional proposals will “allow multi-hospital systems to have unified and integrated Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement programs for all of their member hospitals.” Think about a single hospital; implementing a standardized process can help the facility tackle new regulations with ease. On a larger scale, standardizing both measurements and assessments across multiple hospitals can greatly benefit unified facilities by tracking their metrics on one scale, decreasing costs and remaining ahead of the curve for changes in best practices or new regulations.

3. Invest in projects you’ve postponed.

With the current initiatives underway to remove these unnecessary and excessively burdensome requirements, “CMS projects savings of nearly $5.2 billion and a reduction of 53 million hours through 2021. That results in saving 6,000 years of burden hours over the next three years.”

RELATED: CMS rebrands Meaningful Use, reduces reporting measures

With that kind of savings, imagine the number of projects your healing environment could invest in. Now, before you start researching the latest machinery or new drapes for patients’ rooms, make sure to evaluate the projects highest on your list from a patient care standpoint. If CMS’ reduced burdens allow you to reallocate time and money from pesky Medicare processes, consider exploring additional systems, investments, and procedures that center around patient-focused care.

Final thoughts

As CMS continues to update and streamline their procedures to free up time and costs, healthcare facilities must take advantage of their newfound assets. Make ambulatory care a priority, look back at projects you’ve been putting off and make standardization possible among multiple facilities. CMS’ “Patients Over Paperwork” is the real deal. Not only should it relieve burdens on those working directly with Medicare, but it will also benefit all patients and associates in the healthcare system.

Larry Lacombe is the vice president of program development and facilities compliance at Medxcel, specializing in facilities management, safety, the environment of care, emergency management and compliance. Medxcel provides healthcare service support products and drives in-house capabilities, savings and efficiencies for healthcare organizations.