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How will technology play a role in Primary Care First?

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This post is part of a series of posts that aim to educate independent primary care practices about CMS’ recently announced Primary Cares Initiative.

Click here to read our overview of Primary Care First.

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One of the requirements for a primary care physician to participate in the newly announced Primary Care First initiative is that the practice must use Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT). Technology plays a significant role in the initiative, developed and administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center.

The goal of the Primary Care First initiative is to reduce hospitalizations among Medicare patients, as the funds for what is known as Medicare Part A are expected to be depleted in 2026. CMS is encouraging primary care physicians to keep patients out of the hospital and, in fact, will reward those practices who do so financially. Toward that aim, the new payment models “seek to improve patients’ experiences of care and outcome-based clinical quality measures, such as managing diabetes, controlling high blood pressure, and screening for colorectal cancer.”

The specific requirement for participating in the Primary Care First initiative is for the primary care practice to “Use 2015 Edition Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT), support data exchange with other providers and health systems via Application Programming Interface (API), and connect to their regional health information exchange (HIE).”

Interoperability is key to providing quality, coordinated care, especially for those patients with chronic or complex illness. One of the Primary Care First payment options is, in fact, specifically geared to those primary care practices that “take responsibility for high need, seriously ill beneficiaries who currently lack a primary care practitioner and/or effective care coordination.”

Technology will enable the primary care physician to more closely monitor patient outcomes, to drive the phenomenal care that CMS desires through its Primary Care First initiative. EHRs, particularly Elation Health’s Clinical First solution, will enable primary care physicians to holistically evaluate their patient population with a longitudinal record that trends vitals and lab values over time. The provider can quickly identify patients who aren’t meeting goals based on custom care management protocols, Meaningful Use objectives, or specific document tags, and easily schedule a follow-up appointment to address any potential gaps in care.

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