What is the “patients over paperwork” initiative? December 6, 2017
Recognizing that independent physicians may be overwhelmed with the growing list of regulations and reporting requirements, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced the Patients Over Paperwork initiative. In essence, CMS recognizes the need for providers to spend more time with their patients and less time dealing with the burden of regulatory obstacles.
The Patients Over Paperwork initiative is “a cross-cutting, collaborative process that evaluates and streamlines regulations with a goal to reduce unnecessary burden, increase efficiencies, and improve the beneficiary experience.” At this point, it is estimated that CMS releases about 58 rules per year, which is the equivalent of 11,000 published manuscript pages.
Independent physicians, especially, spend more time keeping up with those rules, regulations, and reporting requirements than they do with patients during the visit and in post-visit communications. In fact, research has found that primary care physicians spend 27% of their time on their patients and follow-up activities and 49% of their time on administrative requirements.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma, speaking at the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN) Fall Summit, explained that Patients Over Paperwork is “an effort to go through all of our regulations to reduce burden. Because when burdensome regulations no longer advance the goal of patients first, we must improve or eliminate them.” Verma states that she recognizes the fact that the growing amount of required paperwork is “taking doctors away from what matters most – patients.”
The Patients Over Paperwork initiative is part of the Physician Fee Schedule Final Policy, Payment, and Quality Provisions for CY 2018, that includes updates to payment policies, payment rates, and quality provisions for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) on or after January 1, 2018.
In addressing the LAN Fall Summit, Administrator Verma acknowledged that “We have too many measures. We are measuring process and not outcomes.” She is hopeful that the Patients Over Paperwork initiative will alleviate some of the burden on independent physicians, enabling them to spend more time on their primary focus, taking care of their patients.