CMS anticipates big role for health IT in CPC+ initiative

Technology will play a big role in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' massive multi-payer initiative to boost primary care quality, which was announced Monday.

The Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) initiative, a five-year model that will roll out in January 2017, comprises two primary care practice tracks that each boast unique care delivery requirements. It will span 20 regions and can accommodate as many as 5,000 practices, according to CMS.

Providers in both tracks will receive up-front incentive payments to help them deliver quality care in the manner most efficient for their patient populations, but those in Track 2 of the program will receive "a hybrid of reduced Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) payments and up-front comprehensive primary care payments" in addition to a monthly care management fee. Those in Track 1 will receive the aforementioned fee and FFS payments under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.

According to a frequently asked questions document provided by CMS, all CPC+ practices must have certified electronic health record technology, as well as "other infrastructural capabilities." However, CMS notes that it will not prescribe technical specifications for any tool or enhancement, nor will it pay for any specific health IT vendor or product.

Practices participating in Track 2 also will be held to a higher standard when it comes to use of health IT. As a requirement, they must submit a letter of support from health IT vendors with which they partner that "outlines the vendors' commitment to supporting practices with advanced health IT capabilities." Such vendors must sign a Memorandum of Understanding with CMS.

"These partnerships will be vital to practices' success in the care delivery work and align with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT priority to ensure electronic health information is available when and where it matters to consumers and clinicians," the CMS announcement says.

Health IT Now commended the model, but urged for the allowance of tools to enable remote care, saying in a statement that, unlike the Department of Veterans Affairs, CMS "continues to lag" in matters involving telehealth.

To learn more:
- read the CMS announcement
- here's the FAQ document (.pdf)
- check out the fact sheet
- here's Health IT Now's statement