As we kick off the final year of the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016, there may be some physicians and other PQRS eligible providers looking forward to saying goodbye to this program forever. Those sentiments may be a bit premature however, since recent legislation has indicated that while the PQRS program in its current form will be ending, there is a strong possibility that portions of it will continue as part of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), introduced under MACRA legislation.
The upside to the potential reincarnation of PQRS in future Medicare payment reform programs is that the work that physicians put into PQRS participation now will not be wasted time or effort. As an eligible professional or group practice, one option you have to report quality measures for PQRS is using a qualified registry. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) designates “qualified registries” as entities that can collect clinical data from providers or group practices and submit that data to CMS on behalf of PQRS participants. Early indications from CMS suggest that MIPS will encourage physicians to report quality data to CMS through either a qualified registry or EHR technology, rather than claims, which means that choosing this option in 2016 is a step in the right direction as it relates to preparing for MACRA.
Individual eligible professionals and group practices may satisfactorily report for PQRS in 2016 by meeting the following criteria:
Group practices will need to register with CMS prior to June 30, 2016 to report via qualified registry under the Group Practice Reporting Option.
Individual eligible professionals who wish to report PQRS using a qualified registry also have the option to report on a single measures group instead of 9 individual measures.
CMS made a big push to provide additional resources for PQRS this year, specifically for the claims and registry reporting mechanisms. These new resources should make it easier to select quality measures for reporting in 2016:
It is important for physicians and other PQRS eligible providers to participate in 2016 for many reasons, but if the payment penalties aren’t enough then perhaps preparing for Medicare payment reform requirements will help make it worth the time for your organization. For those who want to participate, work directly with your registry—or quality improvement vendors like Able Health that facilitate registry reporting—to make PQRS reporting as simple as possible both now and in the future.
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