New software developed through federal APIs could streamline MACRA quality scoring

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A partnership between the U.S. Digital Service and the private sector aims to develop tools to help physicians navigate MACRA.

After launching an online tool to help doctors navigate new quality payment regulations, a federal digital consulting branch is working with developers to create new software to help physicians meet quality measurements.

Smartphone apps currently in development through a partnership with the private sector would provide physicians real-time feedback on Quality Payment Program (QPP) scoring outlined under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), according to a report by the United States Digital Service (USDS).

The agency, which operates under the executive branch, is developing application programming interfaces (API) that allow developers to interact with the Medicare system.

Developers have already launched an iPhone app that searches QPP measures, but USDS is in the process of creating APIs that would allow private sector partners to focus on scoring and submission software that could replace the manual process physicians currently navigate when submitting data for QPP measures.

"A public test version is available now and in use by over two-dozen software development firms, and USDS will make the finished version available by the end of 2017," the agency wrote. 

RELATED: How 21st Century Cures and APIs could help EHRs behave more like a smartphone

MACRA has been a primary focus area for USDS, which operates under the executive branch. In April, the agency launched a QPP website that allowed physicians to check their participation status by entering their National Provider Identification number.

APIs are poised to take on a much larger role in healthcare following provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act that requires health IT products to have APIs. But first regulators have to establish a common framework for API developers.

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