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American Academy of Family Physicians
Thursday Apr 21, 2011

Performance measurement and reporting: Finding a method in the madness

As if it wasn't already hard enough for physicians to provide care and get paid by Medicare, many physicians and their staffs are now documenting and reporting data to demonstrate "meaningful use" of electronic health record (EHR) systems, quality (for the Physician Quality Reporting System, or PQRS, formerly PQRI), successful e-prescribing and more. The seeming (and sometimes glaring) lack of coordination across these programs has created barriers to successful participation that may actually detract from the intended increases in quality and coordination of care. 

I hope I have stumbled onto something that might help family physicians and their staff members who are considering how to report the required measures while still having the time and sanity to provide patient care. In developing information on the new Medicare annual wellness visit and the documentation necessary to be paid for that newly covered benefit, I researched the extent to which documentation of preventive services might also be used to support both the PQRS and the meaningful use reporting requirements.

The following table identifies areas of overlap and notes regarding the frequency with which Medicare will pay for the preventive services.


Preventive service

2011 Medicare PQRS measure

EHR “meaningful use” incentive measure

Medicare benefit


Blood pressure


yes

included in annual wellness visit benefit 


BMI screening and follow-up

yes yes

included in annual wellness visit benefit


Tobacco use screening and cessation intervention

yes yes

covered – up to 8 sessions in 12 months


Influenza immunization for patients 50 years and over

yes yes

covered once per season 


Pneumonia vaccination for patients 65 years and over

yes

yes

covered once


Screening mammography

yes yes

covered annually


Colorectal cancer screening

yes yes

covered – schedule depends on screening type


Alcohol use screening

yes

 

national coverage analysis in progress


Osteoporosis screening or therapy

yes

 

bone mass measurement covered for estrogen-deficient or clinically at-risk patients


Urinary incontinence screening for women 65 years and over

yes

 

 

 

Of course each of the programs has its own measure specifications and reporting methodologies, so it may provide much relief to use one measure to meet multiple reporting requirements. However, the table might help you to better organize your efforts.

For instance, is your EHR approved by CMS for use in reporting data to the PQRS program? If not, have you considered using a registry for this purpose? If you are providing annual wellness visits or otherwise documenting your patients' preventive care, registry-based reporting, which requires reporting data for only 30 Medicare patients, might be more easily accomplished. Do you have other ideas for participating in these initiatives with the least amount of administrative burden? If so, I hope you'll share your comments below. Others will appreciate your help.

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