CMS’ $840M Care Transformation Initiative To Leverage Health IT

October 24, 2014 in News

On Thursday, CMS announced a four-year, $840 million federal initiative that, among other things, will leverage health IT to help physician practices improve the quality, efficiency and coordination of care, Health Data Management reports (Goedert, Health Data Management, 10/23).

A majority of the funding will be provided by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, while $40 million of the funds will come from the Quality Improvement Organization program (Young, CQ HealthBeat, 10/23).

Initiative Details

The Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative aims to help providers identify ways of improving quality of care and quickly spread those findings across the U.S. health system through the creation of physician networks, according to AP/U-T San Diego (AP/U-T San Diego, 10/23).

The initiative will provide funding for two kinds of networks:

  • Practice Transformation Networks, which will group together providers who have demonstrated success with cost control and quality improvement practices — such as electronic health records — with organizations that need help in those areas; and
  • Support and Alignment Networks, which will fund organizations that work to educate and communicate with providers (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 10/23).

Strategies eligible for funding include:

  • Expanding the use of EHRs;
  • Enhancing care coordination among providers;
  • Increasing opportunities for patients to communicate with their physicians (Viebeck, The Hill, 10/23); and
  • Monitoring and intervening among high-risk patients to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations (Clinical Innovation Technology, 10/23).

CMS is now accepting applications for the programs. Under the award schedule:

  • Applicants are encouraged to submit a letter of intent by Nov. 20;
  • Applicants must submit an application by Jan. 6, 2015; and
  • CMS will announce the grants on April 30, 2015.

The funding will cover the performance period between May 1, 2015, and April 30, 2019 (Health Data Management, 10/23).

Reaction

Patrick Conway, CMS deputy administrator for Innovation and Quality and chief medical officer, said the initiative is expected to save between $1 billion and $5 billion over four years and could result in reducing five million avoidable hospitalizations (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 10/23).

Barbara McAneny, chair of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, said AMA “strongly believe[s] that practice transformation can lead to improvements in the quality of care for patients, control health care costs and enhance practice sustainability as physicians embrace innovative new models” (The Hill, 10/23).

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