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CMS announces MIPS COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has made several announcements related to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures are designed to aid independent physicians and other providers who have begun seeing patients using telehealth options and who are making additional adjustments to cope with the outbreak. On April 20, CMS announced an incentive for clinicians to assist with research that will help monitor the spread of the virus and will aid in the search for a solution to the outbreak.

If you participate in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), the performance-based track of the Quality Payment Program (QPP), you can now earn credit when you, your physician’s assistant, your nurse practitioners, or other clinicians on your team participate in a clinical trial and report clinical information on COVID-19. By participating and attesting to the new COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity, you will provide vital data that will help drive improvement in patient care and develop best practices to manage the spread of the virus.

In making the announcement, CMS Administrator Seema Verna said, “CMS is supporting efforts of researchers to obtain solid, actionable data to accelerate the development of new treatments and our understanding of the coronavirus.  Today’s action encourages clinicians to report data that will help us monitor the spread of the virus, find innovative medical solutions, and unleash scientific discovery as we seek to overcome this terrible disease.”

Participating in a clinical trial carries a high weight from a scoring perspective. When you report your activity, you will automatically earn half of the total credit needed to earn a maximum score in the MIPS improvement activities performance category, which counts as 15 percent of the MIPS final score.

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To receive this credit for the new MIPS COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity, you will need to attest that you are participating in a COVID-19 clinical trial using a drug or biological product to treat a patient with a COVID-19 infection. You will then report your findings through a clinical data repository or clinical data registry for the duration of the study.

There is flexibility in the type of clinical trial that you choose to participate in, including the traditional double-blind placebo-controlled trial to an adaptive or pragmatic design that flexes to workflow and clinical practice. In its announcement, CMS also provided information on a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies currently being conducted on coronavirus.

Examples of clinical trials include those conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH). You might also choose to report through a clinical data repository such as Oracle’s COVID-19 Therapeutic Learning System. Oracle has developed and donated a system to the U.S. government that allows clinicians and patients to record the effectiveness of promising COVID-19 drug therapies at no cost.

As a physician on the front line of providing care to patients infected with COVID-19, you can contribute significantly to scientific research and evidence to fight the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Participation in these clinical trials will lead to improvements in care delivery and the ability to treat COVID-19 patients and will enable you to earn valuable MIPS credit for your practice.