CMS launches initiative to reduce physician paperwork

A big complaint among physicians is the amount of time they spend on paperwork.

Responding to that concern, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has launched an initiative that will allow physicians to spend more time on patient care and less time on paperwork. As a first step, CMS announced a medical review reduction program to ease the reporting burden for physicians.

An 18-month pilot program will relieve doctors who participate in specified advanced alternative payment models (APMs) from additional scrutiny under certain Medicare medical review programs, CMS said. The agency identified APMs for the pilot because participating clinicians share financial risk with the Medicare program.

The American Medical Association said the initiative is a good first step to ease burdensome paperwork. “The AMA has been urging the Obama Administration to ease the extensive bureaucratic requirements imposed on physicians,” said the group’s president Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., in a statement.

A recent study that was sponsored by the AMA found that for every hour physicians spend providing clinical care to patients, they spend two hours on administrative tasks. Another study found physician frustrations run so high that more than half of the doctors in a national survey have considered leaving the profession, with many saying they want to spend more time with patients and less with electronic health records.

The pilot program is part of a broader initiative to boost engagement among clinicians. “The new initiative will launch a nationwide effort to work with the clinician community to improve Medicare regulations, policies, and interaction points to address issues and to help get physicians back to the most important thing they do--taking care of patients,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt, in announcing the program.

CMS said it will analyze results of the pilot program and consider expansion of the program to additional APMs, specialties and provider types. For more details about the pilot program, physicians can find a fact sheet on the initiative.