CMS aims to ease physician regulatory burdens

Physicians want to spend more time with their patients. Likewise, patients feel their providers do not spend enough time with them during their visits. The use of electronic health records (EHRs) can certainly help providers, by reducing the amount of paperwork they have to complete each day. However, there are still regulations and reporting requirements that independent physicians must adhere to, in order to receive appropriate reimbursement for their services.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a new initiative, “Patients Over Paperwork” to address that very issue. Seema Verda, CMS Administrator, in making the announcement in October 2017, acknowledged that CMS releases about 58 rules per year, which is the equivalent of 11,000 published manuscript pages.

Verda said, “Regulations do have their role. They’re very important to assuring patient safety and quality and for program integrity, but there’s a fine line between being helpful and being a hindrance.” The Patients Over Paperwork initiative is being touted as “a cross-cutting, collaborative process that evaluates and streamlines regulations with a goal to reduce unnecessary burden, increase efficiencies, and improve the beneficiary experience,” according to a CMS news release.

Shortly after announcing the Patients Over Paperwork initiative, CMS Administrator Verda spoke to the the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN) Fall Summit in Arlington, Virginia, about CMS’s “efforts to streamline quality measures, reduce regulatory burden, and promote innovation.” Part of those efforts include a new approach to quality measurement called “Meaningful Measures,” focused on “assessing those core issues that are most vital to providing high-quality care and improving patient outcomes.”

In announcing the new efforts toward easing physician regulatory burdens, Verda states that she hopes to remove the regulatory obstacles that have kept providers buried in paperwork and reporting and that have taken time away from their patient interactions. Verda was joined by 35 provider associations and organizations, including the American Hospital Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, for the launch of Patients Over Paperwork.