Physician practices critique Medicare quality reporting programs

October 27, 2014 in Medical Technology

More than 83 percent of physician practices do not believe current Medicare physician quality reporting programs enhanced their physicians’ ability to provide high-quality patient care, according to new research released Monday.

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) revealed the results of its Physician Practice Assessment: Medicare Quality Reporting Programs research at the organization’s 2014 annual conference here. The assessment includes responses from more than 1,000 medical groups in which more than 48,000 physicians practice nationwide.

The practices surveyed were critical of Medicare’s physician quality reporting programs and their impact on patients and practices. The Medicare Part B programs under scrutiny include the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), the meaningful-use EHR Incentive Program and the Value-Based Payment Modifier Program.

Physician practices in the MGMA survey reported significant challenges in complying with Medicare quality reporting requirements. More than 70 percent rated Medicare’s quality reporting requirements as “very” or “extremely” complex. In addition, a significant majority of respondents indicated these programs negatively affected practice efficiency, support staff time and clinician morale.

“Medicare has lost focus with its physician quality reporting programs,” said Anders Gilberg, MGMA senior vice president of government affairs. “Instead of providing timely, meaningful and actionable information to help physicians treat patients, this has become a massive bureaucratic reporting exercise. Each program has its own set of arcane and duplicative rules which force physician practices to divert resources away from patient care.”

More than 82 percent of the physician group practices surveyed reported they actively engage in internal processes to improve clinical quality for the patients they serve. Gilberg said 2015 will be a critical year for medical group practices participating under the three main Medicare Part B physician quality reporting programs. It will be the first year all three programs penalize physicians for reporting unsuccessfully, and penalties will continue to grow in future years.

Unsuccessful reporting in 2015 will subject physicians and other eligible providers to combined Medicare payment penalties as high as 11 percent, levied in future years.

“MGMA continues to advocate for a single-harmonized Medicare quality improvement initiative that standardizes reporting and supports physicians in their efforts to improve care for their patients,” Gilberg said.

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