A cornerstone of hospital medicine is the delivery of high-quality inpatient care by improving the performance of the systems and facilities in which hospitalists work. By extension, hospitalists are often held accountable, in varying ways, for improving the performance of facility metrics, such as those in the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (HVBP), Inpatient Quality Reporting, and Hospital Readmissions Reduction programs.
Despite the work hospitalists were already doing to improve both efficiency and quality within their institutions, the 2010 Affordable Care Act introduced penalties for clinicians who did not submit qualifying provider-level data via the Physician Quality Reporting System program. Initially only an incentive program, PQRS was ultimately incorporated into the Physician Value-Based Payment (VBP) Modifier to make performance-based payment adjustments to Medicare physician payment. At this point, many hospitalists were not only accountable for helping to improve the metrics of their facilities, but also required to report individually or within their groups on provider-level measures, many of which were irrelevant to hospital medicine practice.
With this dual burden becoming evident, the Society of Hospital Medicine approached the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services with a possible solution. Could hospitalists elect to use their facilities’ metrics as a stand-in for the provider level metrics? Not only would this reduce the burden of reporting irrelevant metrics, but it would also help alleviate some of the disadvantages hospitalists face within Physician VBP.
The CMS was initially very supportive of the concept, but informed the SHM such alignment was not possible under existing law. In brief, the law required Physician VBP to remain completely within the Physician Fee Schedule and its related metrics; facility level metrics from a different payment system could not be used.
Undeterred, the SHM sought opportunities to change the law. As Congress was developing the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the SHM worked closely with lawmakers to include language that would permit measures in “other payment systems” to be used for physician performance assessment. This language was retained in the final version of MACRA that was signed into law on April 16, 2015.
The SHM continued its advocacy, working closely with the CMS and its new authority to shape an option to align Medicare’s facility metrics and scores with provider reporting. Today that idea is a reality. Beginning this year, the CMS will have a new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) reporting option available for hospitalists: facility-based measurement.
Facility-based measurement enables clinicians to receive a score for the Quality and Cost categories of the MIPS, without the need to collect and report on measures separately. Eligible providers would receive the MIPS score in those categories associated with the same percentile as their hospital’s score in HVBP. No more administrative work necessary to collect, clean and report on data for quality measures in the MIPS. If you are eligible, the CMS will automatically calculate a Quality and Cost score and combine this with your score from Improvement Activities and Promoting Interoperability (if you are not exempt) to give you a final MIPS score. If you decide to report on quality measures through the traditional MIPS pathway as well, the CMS will give you the higher of the scores.
There are certainly trade-offs associated with the facility-based measurement option. You do not have the burden of reporting measures on your own, but you do not get to pick what measures and what facility’s score you receive. Facility-level measures may be more difficult to improve performance, particularly as an individual, but the automatic application of facility-based measurement to eligible clinicians and groups serves as a backstop for MIPS reporting.
Aligning facility and clinician performance should encourage collaboration and innovation to meet these shared goals. As such, facility-based measurement represents a massive philosophical and practical shift in CMS measure reporting. As we enter these uncharted waters together, we hope to continue learning from your experiences and perspectives and working to refine facility-based measurement in the future.
For more information about facility-based reporting and the MIPS in general, visit www.macraforhm.org.
Mr. Lapps is government relations senior manager and Mr. Boswell is government relations director at the Society of Hospital Medicine.
Who is eligible for facility-based measurement?
- Individual providers who bill more than 75% of their Medicare Part B professional services in Place of Service 21 (Emergency Department), 22 (Hospital Outpatient), and 23 (Inpatient Hospital), billing at least one service in POS 21 or 23, and work in a hospital with an HVBP score.
- Groups who have at least 75% of their individual clinicians who meet the eligibility criteria.
- Nearly all hospitalists should qualify for facility-based measurement as individuals, while group eligibility depends on the demographics of their staff.