Section 10332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide Medicare claims data to “qualified” private organizations for the purpose of reporting provider performance information. On June 8, CMS issued a proposed rule that includes tight parameters on who qualifies to receive the data, beneficiary privacy protections, and the rights of providers to correct errors before reports are made public. CMS also included estimates of the fees to receive the claims data: $275,000.
The fees are not a price as much as an effort to recoup the expense associated with providing the data. CMS has interpreted expenses to include the cost of providing technical assistance, processing qualified entities’ applications, and monitoring of qualified entities to ensure appropriate use of the data and appropriate adherence to data privacy and security standards.
For hospitalists, the opportunity to access this data presents both positives and negatives. On the positive side, research and QI data sources will be greatly expanded. Currently, it is not unheard of to receive multiple, sometimes contradictory, reports from different sources because they are based on different data from piecemeal claims or measures. This initiative grants the ability to combine private sector data with the enormous amount of data at CMS, which should result in the more useful quality reports. This broad pool of data also will allow for a new level of accuracy when it comes to analyzing quality, efficiency, and resource use.
On the negative side, the expense of obtaining this data could be cost-prohibitive for smaller organizations, and access could end up being limited to those with deeper pockets. Additionally, it will be critical to identify errors and inaccuracies in reports. As a result, hospitalists could be forced to spend time and resources reviewing privately produced performance reports before they are made public.
There is potential in this initiative to change the quality measurement landscape. If done well, the opportunity to combine claims data from both Medicare and the private sector will produce a wealth of information related to how providers and suppliers are performing.
SHM will be voicing support for the concept because it serves to increase performance transparency, not just for hospitalists but for all stakeholders.
Ready to Lead Hospital Medicine?
Join an SHM Committee
When Kim Dickinson, MD, joined SHM’s Administrators Committee, it expanded her network of HM professionals. It also gave her an opportunity to take some of the best practices in the specialty to others within her company.
For other hospitalists interested in flexing leadership muscles and growing their network of hospitalists, now is the time to apply for positions on more than 30 of SHM’s committees and task forces. Potential applicants are encouraged to apply before January 2012.
Committee information and applications are available at www.hospitalmedicine.org/committees.
“SHM’s committees and task forces are the engines that drive SHM toward a vision of transforming healthcare and revolutionizing patient care in the hospital,” says SHM president Joseph Li, MD, SFHM. “And the broad span of issues covered by our committees gives every aspiring hospitalist an opportunity to channel their energy into something meaningful.”
Dr. Dickinson sees committee participation as a way to learn and grow.
“I always tell people about being on committees,” she says. “It’s a good learning experience for people, and it exposes you to a wide variety of people and different perspectives. What applies to a four-member group is very different than what applies to 40-member group.
“A lot of learning that can come from that.”