Healthcare Needs to Catch-up; It's Time to #killthefax
In medical facilities throughout the country, physi­cians, nurses, and staff are placing medical records in a tray, dialing a number, pressing send to fax private health information across town, across the state, or around the world. According to one private firm’s estimate, 75 percent of all healthcare communications are sent by fax. Isn’t it time we change this picture and #killthefax?

While industries such as banking, insurance, and education consider faxing a nearly antiquated form of communication, many in healthcare have not tran­sitioned to the digital transfer of information. The fax’s endurance may be a symptom of regulations, technological limitations, or simply tradition. The lack of privacy for personal health information, the un­certainty and unreliability on the part of the end user, half-printed and missing pages, are all critical reasons to #killthefax.
In August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced their goal to eliminate fax machines from physician offices by 2020. CMS Administrator Seema Verma noted that healthcare is stuck in a 1990s time warp — it is possible to keep patient data secure while sharing it with them. Verma challenged developers to help make doctors’ offices a fax free zone by 2020. 

Recently released research dubbed, ‘Faxploit’, demon­strates how cyber criminals can now infiltrate a cor­porate network by exploiting all-in-one-printer-fax machines. The only thing required to carry out the attack is a fax number. Another reason to #killthefax.

Interoperability remains the key in accomplishing the #killthefax initiative. 

Participation in a health information exchange, such as CTHealthLink, will not only help #killthefax in Con­necticut but also allows healthcare providers to quickly access their patients’ data across disparate healthcare systems, reducing treatment delays and enhancing clinical decision making. The HIE supports patient care coordination and transitions of care by allowing healthcare professionals to access their patients’ most recent test results, procedures, diagnoses, and medica­tions in a secure environment.
To learn more about CTHealthLink's #killthefax initiative visit www.CTHealthLink.com/killthefax .

State Medical Societies Collaborate to Impact Healthcare Disparities Through Utilization of Health Information Exchange Data
Seven state medical societies announced the creation of the Health Equity Network for Change (HENC) which is focused on improving the health status of medically underserved populations. HENC employs a new data source, health information exchange data, and powerful analytic tools provided by KAMMCO. Medical societies in each of these states have engaged KAMMCO to build physician-led exchanges: Kansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Connecticut, New Jersey, Missouri, and Louisiana. 

HENC chairman M. Natalie Achong, MD, MHL, FACOG, representing the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS) shared, “Physicians across the nation are increasingly concerned about health disparities. To address this, HENC brings leading physicians together to examine trends in health disparity data. This will allow HENC to make data-driven recommendations for the establishment of population health priorities at regional, state and national levels aimed at improving health outcomes.”

“The Connecticut State Medical Society and the state’s physician-led health information exchange, CTHealthLink, are excited to participate in this new initiative,” said Matthew Katz, CSMS Executive Vice President and CEO. “By working together to address universal healthcare issues such as healthcare disparities and population health, we can broaden our impact across the country.”

Laura McCrary, Ed.D, Senior Vice President of KAMMCO added, “Health information exchange data is an enormously valuable, rich set of clinical data aggregated across all exchange participating healthcare providers within a region, state or nation. This data provides key insights into healthcare patterns and utilization previously not available from static, outdated or geographically limited clinical data sets.” 

HENC has tapped leading physicians with expertise in health disparities including: Amin Yehya, MD, representing the Medical Association of Georgia; Tracie Collins, MD, MPH, MHCDS, representing the Kansas Medical Society; Donnie Batie, MD, ABFM, representing the Louisiana State Medical Society; Kirsten Dunn, MD, FACP, representing the Missouri State Medical Association; Soumen Samaddar, MD, representing the Medical Society of New Jersey; and, Gerald Wilson, MD, representing the South Carolina Medical Association.
Physicians Encouraged to Re-check 2017 MIPS Scores: Targeted Review Deadline Extended
In mid-September, CMS announced they identified errors in the scoring logic for the 2017 MIPS Performance scores. Solutions to correct the errors have been implemented. Physicians are encouraged to check and/or re-check their 2017 MIPS Performance scores for accuracy and updates.

As a result, CMS is extending the targeted review deadline from October 1 to October 15. The scoring logic affects:

  • Practices granted ACI exemptions and Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances hardship exceptions. The performance scores for many of those practices did not take the exemptions into account.
  • The awarding of Improvement Activity credit for successful participation in the Improvement Activities (IA) Burden Reduction Study. Practices participating in the study were not given the appropriate IA credit.
  • The addition of the All-Cause Readmission (ACR) measure to the MIPS final score.

When CMS corrected the scoring logic, the scores for impacted clinicians were affected. In addition, because the MACRA legislation must remain budget neutral, clinicians who were not directly affected by the logic changes may see corrections to their 2019 MIPS adjustments.

Physicians should log into their Enterprise Identity Data Management (EIDM) account to review revised 2017 MIPS scores by the October 15, 2018 deadline to submit any appeals to CMS. If a physician does not have an EIDM account, they can  click here  to create one. Physicians can call CMS at 866.288.8292 with questions.

New MIPS Resources are Now Available in the Quality Payment Program Resource Library
CMS has posted the following new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) resources on CMS.gov :

2019 Virtual Groups Toolkit: Includes an overview fact sheet, which details what virtual groups are and how to participate in a virtual group in 2019; an election process fact sheet that describes the process for forming a virtual group; a sample virtual group election submission email; and a virtual group agreement template.

2018 Cost Performance Category Fact Sheet (updated): Offers an overview of the Cost performance category including how the Cost performance category is weighted and scored

2018 Claims Data Submission Fact Sheet: Provides details on how to submit Quality performance category data through claims for the 2018 performance year.

2018 MIPS Specialty Measures Guides for Anesthesiologists and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), Cardiologists, and Radiologists: Highlights a non-exhaustive list of measures and activities for the Quality, Cost, Improvement Activities and Promoting Interoperability performance categories that may apply to anesthesiologists and CRNAs, cardiologists and radiologists in 2018.

MIPS Data Validation Criteria: Includes an overview fact sheet and the 2018 criteria used to audit and validate data submitted in the Quality, Improvement Activities, and Promoting Interoperability performance categories.

2018 Eligible Measure Applicability (EMA) Resources: Provides an overview of the Eligibility Measure Applicability (EMA) process and lists individual quality measures for both registry and claims data submission.

For more information visit the Quality Payment Program Resource Library on CMS.gov to review new and existing QPP resources. Contact the Quality Payment Program at QPP@cms.hhs.gov or 1-866-288-8292 (TTY: 1-877-715-6222).
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Matthew Katz
EVP/CEO
Connecticut State Medical Society
203.641.7046