The rule change, Damberg says, should take some energy out of the discussion surrounding the program and allow more physicians to participate.
“From CMS’ perspective, they want doctors delivering the recommended care and they want doctors to be able to report it out easily,” Damberg says.
In 2014, providers can submit measures through the new QCDR option, or submit PQRS-identified measures through a Medicare qualified registry, through electronic health records, through the group practice reporting option (GPRO), and through claims-based reporting (though this last option is expected to be phased out over time).
Registries themselves are not new, but they can cost millions of dollars to establish and as much as a million a year to maintain. They typically contain more clinical depth and specificity than claims data, and numerous studies show the use of registries leads to improved patient outcomes.
“We don’t know how many [existing] registries are going to qualify to become these qualified clinical data registries,” says Tom Granatir, senior vice president for health policy and external relations at ABMS. “It’s going to take some time for these registries to evolve.”
Qualified clinical data registries must be in operation for at least one year to be eligible for certification by Medicare. They must include performance data from other payers beyond Medicare. Not only must QCDRs be capable of capturing and sending data, they must also provide national benchmarks to those who submit and must report back at least four times per year.
Granatir believes the QCDR rule, which allows QCDR’s to report measures beyond those included in the PQRS program, will help increase participation and will lead to more practice-based measures, but he fears it may exclude some important nuances of day-to-day patient care.
“The whole point [of quality measure reporting] is to create more public transparency…but if you have measures that are not relevant to what is actually done in practices, then it’s not a useful dataset,” he says.
Ideally, Damberg says, PQRS and other performance measures should enable physicians to do what they do better.
“I think this is really going to raise the stakes for [hospitalists] if they want to control their destiny,” Damberg says. “I think they have to get really engaged in this game and take a pro-active role in looking at where the quality gaps are and how can they better benefit patients. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Kelly April Tyrrell is a freelance writer in Wilmington, Del.