MIPS 2021: Proposed Rule Key Takeaways

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the Quality Payment Program (QPP) proposed rule for the 2021 performance year. To accommodate for the challenges posed by COVID-19, CMS is not proposing many significant changes to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for 2021. Here are the highlights of the proposed rule for next year. For information on the current performance year, see our MIPS 2020 page.

MIPS Value Pathways

Introduction of MIPS Value Pathways (MVPs), the new framework originally set to begin implementation in the 2021 performance year, will be postponed. CMS will continue to work on engaging stakeholders and developing the framework’s guiding principles.

APM Performance Pathway

CMS has proposed an APM Performance Pathway (APP), complementary to MVPs. This option would be available to MIPS APM participants only and would be composed of a fixed set of measures for each performance category. The APP performance measures would also satisfy reporting requirements for the Medicare Shared Savings Program quality scoring.

Performance Category Weights

In 2021, the proposed Quality performance category weight will be reduced from 45 percent to 40 percent. The Cost category weight will increase from 15 percent to 20 percent.

MIPS Performance Category Weights

Performance Threshold

For the 2021 performance period, CMS proposes to increase the performance threshold (maximum number of points needed to avoid a negative payment adjustment) from 45 to 50 points. There is no change to the exceptional performance threshold (number of points needed for a positive payment adjustment) of 85 points.

MIPS Performance Thresholds

Performance Categories

Quality Category

CMS proposes to use performance period benchmarks, rather than historical, to score quality measures. Previously, the benchmarking baseline period was the 12-month calendar year two years prior to the MIPS performance year. CMS hopes to ensure accurate and reliable data due to possible gaps in baseline data due to COVID-19. Therefore, in 2021, the agency proposes to use benchmarks from the 2021 performance period instead of the 2019 calendar year.

CMS also proposes to end the CMS Web Interface as a quality reporting option for ACOs and registered groups, virtual groups, or other APM Entities beginning with the 2021 performance period.

Improvement Activities Category

Minimal updates would be made to the Improvement Activities inventory. A process would also be established for agency-nominated improvement activities.

In 2021, there are no proposed changes to the requirement that at least 50% of the clinicians in the group or virtual group must perform the same activity during any continuous 90-day period in the performance year.

Cost Category

CMS proposes to update existing measure specifications to include telehealth services that are directly applicable to existing episode-based cost measures and the TPCC measure.

COVID-19 Flexibility Scoring Proposals

For the 2020 performance period only, the maximum number of bonus points available for the complex patient bonus would be 10, to account for the additional complexity of treating patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

You can view the full 2021 QPP Proposed Rule fact sheet here.

MIPS and SurveyVitals

SurveyVitals can help you satisfy certain MIPS requirements. Learn more on our MIPS page, sign up for a demo, or chat with us using the blue chat icon below.

August 6th, 2020 Categories: featured, MIPS Information

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COVID-19 and Patient Anxiety: Top 5 Concerns

It’s not uncommon for patients visiting the doctor to experience anxiety related to their symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment. The spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has introduced a new type of anxiety for many patients: the fear of exposure to the virus. Many Americans are even avoiding medical care due to fear of contracting the virus in a healthcare setting.

Using SurveyVitals’ comment sentiment analysis and keyword search, we reviewed patient comments specific to COVID-19 procedures in office-based practices. We identified the top five patient concerns related to fear of clinical contamination. Taking steps to address these concerns may increase your patients’ comfort level with your care.

Top 5 Patient Concerns

#1: Visitor Screening

Screening patients and visitors prior to entry may look different from one practice to the next. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published recommendations for screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms and risk potential.

This screening at the building entrance gives peace of mind for patients who worry they will come in contact with someone infected with COVID-19. It is important to have a triaging process in place so patients can feel at ease in your facility.

#2: Shared Items

Patients are particularly apprehensive about handling shared items such as pens, clipboards, or tablets. Whenever possible, offer the option for patients to fill out paperwork online prior to their visit.

For patients who do need to fill out forms onsite, disinfect pens and clipboards after each use. Consider having a clearly-labeled ‘clean’ set of pens and clipboards for patients to use.

In the waiting room, remove magazines and toys. If wifi is available, post the login information so patients can use their phones while they wait.

#3: Waiting Room Distancing

Many patients express discomfort with their proximity to other people in the waiting room. The CDC guidelines for clinic COVID-19 preparedness specify that waiting rooms should be set up to allow for six feet of distance between patients. Use signs to designate seating as off-limits, or remove chairs from the waiting room to provide adequate social distancing.

For check-in and check-out, place markers on the floor for patients to stand on to maintain six feet of distance.

If social distancing is not feasible in your waiting room, consider having patients wait in their cars or in a designated outdoor waiting area. If possible, you may also set up partitions inside.

#4: Face Masks

The CDC has published recommendations regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) for clinicians and symptomatic patients. However, required use of masks by all staff (both clinical and office) as well as patients and visitors is important in reducing patient anxiety about COVID-19 exposure.

If masks are required at your facility, make the policy known when scheduling the appointment and again with any reminders sent to the patient.

Sometimes patients can have difficulty with understanding their provider or another staff member due to mask use. Before removing your mask, view this article on communicating effectively while following COVID-19 prevention procedures.

#5: Offering Supplies

It’s crucial to offer hand sanitizer and tissues, and to ensure patients can easily access trash cans and soap at sinks. Patients without access to these supplies are likely to experience anxiety about contamination, especially if they have had to handle shared items such as pens, or if they’ve had to touch door handles or equipment.

SurveyVitals Study of Patient Views on COVID-19

Since March 2020, SurveyVitals has surveyed over 100,000 patients to capture public sentiment regarding COVID-19. View the ongoing study here and sign up for a demo today to learn how you can take part while collecting valuable feedback about the patient experience in your organization.

July 23rd, 2020 Categories: Best Practices, COVID-19, featured, Outpatient Practice

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New Features: Telehealth Survey and Updated Survey Interface

The SurveyVitals solution is continuously evolving to fit our users’ unique needs–healthcare organizations of all sizes and specialties. Improvements and new developments to the online reporting patient experience platform come as a result of direct input and asks from clients.

Our newly released telehealth survey solution makes it easy for practices providing both in-person visits and audio/visual offerings to understand and measure what might feel like a new experience. Additionally, the patient survey interface has been optimized to improve user experience. To learn more about these releases, read below or contact your SurveyVitals account manager.

Interested in learning more about SurveyVitals? Request more information here.

Telehealth Survey

Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, more healthcare organizations are offering virtual visits than ever before to reduce the risk of exposure to patients and staff. To help our clients adapt, we developed the Telehealth Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire (TPSQ).

The telehealth survey features 12 questions about the patient experience with virtual visits within your healthcare organization. These questions cover scheduling the visit, logging on, provider communication and interactions, and willingness to recommend.

The telehealth survey easily adapts to your workflow. Organizations offering both in-person and telehealth visits can upload a single patient list for both visit types, so no additional work is needed after survey setup is complete.

Updated Survey Interface

Our new digital survey interface was designed to improve the user experience for patients while taking the survey. The update ensures a consistent experience and furthers patient accessibility. Over 90% of SurveyVitals digital surveys are completed on mobile devices.

Telehealth Survey New Interface

If you are interested in enabling the telehealth survey for your organization or have questions about the updated survey interface, reach out to your SurveyVitals Account Manager or contact us using the blue chat icon at the bottom of the screen.

June 16th, 2020 Categories: COVID-19, featured, Outpatient Practice, Patient Experience

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SurveyVitals Releases National COVID-19 ‘Patient Views’ Report

25% increase in those who self-report to be quarantining due to the virus

BOISE, ID – SurveyVitals, Inc., the nation’s leading digital patient experience survey provider, today released its findings of an ongoing nationwide study about how the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting Americans’ lives. SurveyVitals collected and analyzed over 16,000 initial responses from patients across 1,800 healthcare practice locations in the U.S. to learn more about trending concerns related to COVID-19.

“We deployed this question set in partnership with our healthcare clients on the front lines to help educate the public about CDC recommendations while also capturing important feedback to make national benchmark data available,” said Blake Vosburgh, President of SurveyVitals. “Understanding public sentiment on COVID-19 is critical to help identify potential gaps in education and inform future outreach as we face this unprecedented global health crisis.”

A six-question addendum set about the coronavirus was provided to patients at the conclusion of a regularly administered SurveyVitals patient experience survey. Patient responses were captured using a three-pronged contact methodology: text message, email and interactive voice response call. Data was processed using SurveyVitals’ proprietary reporting platform with text comments undergoing sentiment and topical analysis.

Key Takeaways from SurveyVitals’ COVID-19 ‘Patient Views’ Report
  • As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. rises, the number of people who report quarantining is increasing. Over the course of the study, there has been a 25% increase in the number of people indicating they are quarantining due to the virus.
  • The Silent Generation, those most at risk according to the CDC for severe complications due to COVID-19, report the highest levels of concern (60% strongly agree that the coronavirus is concerning), while Generation Z is seemingly the least concerned (40% strongly agree).
  • In open-text comments about the impact of the coronavirus, 19% of respondents mention or express concern about economic impact, and 12% address the difficulties of social isolation and the effects it could have on mental health.
  • There are noticeable differences between genders in response to the coronavirus. Women are more likely to share their thoughts (6%^), are more concerned about the virus (5%^), perceive a larger impact to their daily lives (2%^), and are quarantining more (13%^) than men.

The full aggregated report can be accessed here, with featured visualizations updating in real-time. SurveyVitals will amend key report findings as additional responses are collected.

About SurveyVitals

For over 15 years, SurveyVitals’ mission has been to partner with healthcare organizations and providers to understand and improve the patient experience using innovative technology. In-depth, intuitive reporting tools provide actionable insights in real-time to support data-driven decision making. SurveyVitals offers comprehensive solutions, including a unique blend of digital patient surveys, CMS-approved CAHPS administration, and online reputation tools to help organizations of all sizes and specialties meet their goals. Join the over 16,000 clinicians who are already experiencing the SurveyVitals difference. To learn more visit www.SurveyVitals.com.

Contact

To learn more about SurveyVitals or request a demo, please click here or contact Devon Smith, Director of Strategic Programs (devon@surveyvitals.com).

For media inquiries, please contact Kyra Maples, Chief Operating Officer. (kyra@surveyvitals.com)

April 8th, 2020 Categories: COVID-19, featured, Press Release

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SurveyVitals is exhibiting at ASA Practice Management 2020

ASA Practice Management 2020

On January 17 and 18, SurveyVitals will be exhibiting at Practice Management 2020 in Las Vegas.

Stop by and say hi to CEO Bob Vosburgh and team members Devon Smith and Meg Rust in booth #510. We’ll be onsite to answer questions about all things SurveyVitals and to provide insights into how to best utilize your patient experience results to drive improvment and win and retain business.

At the event, the American Society of Anesthesiologists will host a group of experts to address the anesthesia industry’s most pressing issues. Learn more about the event on the conference website.

We look forward to seeing you there!

January 9th, 2020 Categories: Patient Experience

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New Feature: SPSQ Low Score Comment Prompts

Low Score Comment Prompts

Better understand patient concerns with our low-score survey logic, now included on our Standard Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire (SPSQ). When patients select a score of a ‘1’ or ‘2’ on the five-point Likert scale for any standard survey question, they will be prompted to leave a comment describing their experience in that area.

The long-term use of this feature on our Anesthesia Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire (APSQ2) has been effective in helping providers to better understand trends and improvement opportunities in specific areas. These prompts encourage patients to include details about a specific part of their experience, providing deeper insights than often gained with generalized comment prompts at the end of a survey. Please note, there will be no change to the existing SPSQ comment questions with the addition of the low score prompts.

To gain even more insight from your patient feedback, use our sentiment analysis tool to review patient low score comments. This will help you to identify the most critical feedback quickly.

Have questions about this new feature or the SPSQ survey? Chat with us using the blue chat icon below, or reach out to your client account manager. Interested in learning more about SurveyVitals? Request a demo of the solution here.

December 16th, 2019 Categories: featured, Outpatient Practice, Patient Experience, Product Features

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Public Review Just Got Better! Boost Your Google Business Reviews with this New Feature

Nearly 90 percent of patients look to online reviews when choosing a physician, so increasing a positive presence online is more important than ever.

SurveyVitals’ Public Review feature helped healthcare providers and organizations proactively build their online reputation and improve their search rank in 2019. The feature drives verified patients to leave public reviews about their experiences on a page hosted by SurveyVitals and indexed by Google, allowing prospective patients to find you more easily online.

Since its launch this year, over 200,000 verified patients have posted online ratings using Public Review, and 98% of those reviews scored 4 out of 5 stars or higher. Using our composite scoring algorithm ensures patients’ public star ratings are more reflective of their visit, rather than a single aspect of their experience.

Public Review is an important tool that allows healthcare organizations and providers to build a brand on the web. However, we also want to help get you more positive reviews where they matter the most. Google accounts for 57.5% of all online reviews worldwide, far superseding other online review platforms. If you have only a handful of Google reviews, a one- or two-star rating can drag your overall rating down.

Public Review + Google

We’ve enhanced our Public Review feature to give you a two-pronged approach to building your online reputation. The newest expansion of the tool allows you to better incorporate your Google Business pages into your SEO strategy. Use Public Review to boost your volume of reviews by driving a percentage of your verified patients to your Google Business review pages.

Public Review plus Google

How it works

Setup is quick and easy. Add your Google Business review link to your Public Review settings within your SurveyVitals portal, and specify a percentage of your patients to route directly to this page upon completion of a survey. You can link to the Google Business reviews page for the whole organization or separate pages for each of your practice locations.

That’s it! To schedule a demo or learn more, chat with us using the blue chat icon below.

December 13th, 2019 Categories: featured, Patient Experience, Product Features, Reputation Management

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10 Million Surveys!

10 million patient experience surveys completed

Together with our clients, we reached 10 million surveys in the SurveyVitals comparative benchmark. Thank you for helping us achieve this incredible milestone!

SurveyVitals 10 million surveys completed

With over 16,000 clinicians across 85 specialties utilizing SurveyVitals at over 3,500 locations, we are excited to watch this benchmark continue to grow. Your partnership and each interaction with your patients strengthens the solution and continues to fuel our mission to improve care and the experiences of patients across the country every day.

Ten million surveys comes on the heels of several new feature releases in 2019. Check them out here:

Report Builder

Upgrades to our custom reporting tool increased its speed and ability to analyze higher volumes of data, and introduced more comparison options, diverse filtering, and deeper comment analysis.

Sentiment Analysis

Using a machine learning algorithm, the new sentiment analysis feature measures the overall tone of text comments to help identify the most positive and negative feedback. The addition of sentiment analysis made it easier and faster for users to gain deeper insights from hundreds and even thousands of comments.

Improvement Center

We launched the Improvement Center in our client portal to aid providers in targeting improvement in the areas where it is needed most. The Improvement Center houses over 120 short videos and articles organized by question group.

Provider Performance by Location

Enhancements to the Location & Provider Details tool optimized how organization and division-level users capture provider performance. The Provider Scorecard breaks down each provider’s performance across multiple locations, making comparison of individual performance at one location versus another fast and easy.

We look forward to continuing to enhance and grow our solution as we work toward the next 10 million surveys!

November 25th, 2019 Categories: featured, Patient Experience

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MIPS 2021: MVPs and QCDR Changes Coming

MIPS Final Rule 2020

Last week, CMS released the final rule for the changes to the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). While there are only minor changes to the program in 2020, bigger changes are expected in 2021. Here are two of the big takeaways from the final rule.

MIPS Value Pathways (MVPs)

CMS intends to move toward what they say would be a more streamlined MIPS program. To fulfill upon this vision, the agency intends to reduce reported complexities with data submission and confusion surrounding measure selection with a new framework they are calling MIPS Value Pathways (MVPs).

In the MVP framework, CMS intends to work with stakeholders to create sets of measure options that they say would be more relevant to clinician scope of practice and meaningful to patient care. MIPS-eligible clinicians would no longer choose their measures from a single inventory, but would instead fulfill pre-defined measures and activities connected to a specialty or condition.

At this time, CMS has not determined whether participation in MVPs in 2021 would be optional or mandatory.

Many aspects of the MVP framework are still unclear, and we will be following and providing updates as they are released by CMS. Subscribe to our MIPS newsletter to keep up to date on the MVP discussion.

Qualified Clinical Data Registries (QCDR)

In the current QPP landscape, QCDRs are not required to support multiple MIPS performance categories. However, beginning in performance year 2021, QCDRs will be required to submit data for the Quality, Improvement Activities, and Promoting Interoperability categories for the entire performance year and applicable submission period.

CMS is looking to achieve alignment of similar measures across QCDRs, with an emphasis on outcome measures. Starting in 2021, this would require full measure development and testing at the clinician level prior to the time of self-nomination. Additionally, CMS would implement a set of formalized guidelines for QCDR measure rejections.

You can read more about these proposed changes in the Quality Payment Program final rule.

November 6th, 2019 Categories: featured, MIPS Information

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MIPS 2020: Key Takeaways

MIPS 2020 Final Rule

Last week, CMS released the final rule for the changes to the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) in 2020. Changes to the program next year are minimal, but are still important to note as you head into performance year 4.

Performance Category Weights

There will be no change to the performance category weights in MIPS performance year 2020.

MIPS Performance Categories

Payment Adjustment

For the 2020 performance period, the performance threshold (maximum number of points needed to avoid a negative payment adjustment) will increase from 30 to 45 points. The additional performance threshold for exceptional performance will increase from 75 points to 85.

The maximum positive payment adjustment for performance year 2020 will be increased to 9%, plus additional adjustments for exceptional performance. The maximum negative payment adjustment will be -9%.

Quality Performance Category

Data completeness for performance year 2020 will increase from 60% to 70%. This means you must report on at least 70% of your total patients who meet the measure’s denominator criteria in order to receive maximum points for the measure.

Improvement Activities Category

The Improvement Activities inventory has been updated for MIPS performance year 2020.

MIPS Year 4 Changes to Improvement Activities
Added
  • IA_BE_25: Drug Cost Transparency
  • IA_CC_18: Tracking of clinician’s relationship to and responsibility for a patient by reporting MACRA patient relationship codes
Modified
  • IA_PSPA_28: Completion of an Accredited Safety or Quality Improvement Program
  • IA_PM_2: Anticoagulant Management Improvements
  • IA_EPA_4: Additional improvements in access as a result of QIN/QIO TA
  • IA_PSPA_19: Implementation of formal quality improvement methods, practice changes, or other practice improvement processes
  • IA_BE_7: Participation in a QCDR, that promotes use of patient engagement tools
  • IA_PSPA_7: Use of QCDR data for ongoing practice assessment and improvements
  • IA_BMH_10: Completion of Collaborative Care Management Training Program
Removed
  • IA_PM_1: Participation in Systematic Anticoagulation Program
  • IA_CC_3: Implementation of additional activity as a result of TA for improving care coordination
  • IA_PSPA_14: Participation in Quality Improvement Initiatives
  • IA_PSPA_5: Annual Registration in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
  • IA_PSPA_24: Initiate CDC Training on Antibiotic Stewardship
  • IA_BMH_3: Unhealthy alcohol use
  • IA_BE_11: Participation in a QCDR, that promotes use of processes and tools that engage patients for adherence to treatment plan
  • IA_BE_2: Use of QCDR to support clinical decision making
  • IA_BE_9: Use of QCDR patient experience data to inform and advance improvements in beneficiary
  • IA_BE_10: Participation in a QCDR, that promotes implementation of patient self-action plans
  • IA_CC_6: Use of QCDR to promote standard practices, tools and processes in practice for improvement in care coordination
  • IA_AHE_4: Leveraging a QCDR for use of standard questionnaires
  • IA_AHE_2: Leveraging a QCDR to standardize processes for screening
  • IA_PM_10: Use of QCDR data for quality improvement such as comparative analysis reports across patient populations
  • IA_CC_4: TCPI Participation

Previously, a group or virtual group could attest to an improvement activity if at least one clinician in the group participated in the activity. In 2020, in order for a group or virtual group to attest to an improvement activity, at least 50% of the clinicians in the group or virtual group must perform the same activity during any continuous 90-day period in the performance year.

CMS has also made a technical correction to the definition of ‘Rural Area’ that will not change how rural clinicians are identified.

Also modified are the requirements for patient-centered medical home (PCMH) designation. CMS has removed specific examples of entity names of accreditation organizations in order to remove barriers to designation.

Promoting Interoperability

Currently, hospital-based clinicians who choose to report as a group or virtual group are eligible for reweighting when 100% of the MIPS-eligible clinicians in the group meet the definition of a hospital-based MIPS eligible clinician. In the next performance year, these clinicians are eligible for reweighting when more than 75% of the NPIs in the group or virtual group meet the definition of a hospital-based MIPS eligible clinician.

MIPS Performance Year 2021

Although there are no major changes to the program for 2020, bigger changes are expected in performance year 2021. Subscribe to our MIPS newsletter to stay up to date on these future changes.

November 5th, 2019 Categories: featured, MIPS Information

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MIPS 2021: Proposed Rule Key Takeaways
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COVID-19 and Patient Anxiety: Top 5 Concerns
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