The Healthmonix Advisor

Christina Zink

Christina Zink is a content author and editor at Healthmonix. She has passion for healthcare quality improvement, especially when working with disadvantaged patient populations. This fuels her industry coverage of the upcoming shift to value-based care.
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Recent Posts

3 Points To Consider As You Plan Your 2019 MIPS Reporting Strategy

Posted by Christina Zink on April 17, 2019

The 2018 MIPS reporting year is finally behind us, and you know what that means: time to plan for 2019!

Although this may seem like the last thing you want to think about in the days following the 2018 deadline, MIPS can be very rewarding for those who optimize their scores—and devastating for those on the other end of the spectrum. 2019 is no longer considered a transition year, unlike the first two years of MACRA, which means that the program is doing away with much of the leniency that made reporting easier in the past. The financial risk is now as high as 7%, while the performance threshold has increased to 30 points. In other words, there will be winners and losers, and if you want to stay ahead of the curve it’s imperative to strategize as soon as possible.

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Breaking: CMS Measure Change May Affect ACO Shared Savings

Posted by Christina Zink on April 12, 2019

According to a recent announcement from the National Association of ACOs (NAACOs), CMS failed to adequately communicate significant changes to measure ACO-17, Preventive Care and Screening, Tobacco Use- Screening and Cessation Intervention, until after 2018 quality reporting had begun. NAACOs believes that CMS’s failure to communicate these changes will result in unintended consequences such as lowered or even eliminated shared savings rates for ACOs that consequently received a lower performance score or failed to meet quality standards.

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CMS Announces $1M Artificial Intelligence (AI) Health Outcomes Challenge

Posted by Christina Zink on March 28, 2019

The future is here!

This Wednesday, the CMS Innovation Center, in collaboration with the American Academy of Physicians and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, announced the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Health Outcomes Challenge to predict unplanned hospital and skilled nursing facility admissions and adverse events.

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MIPS Participation Reaches 95%; Other Insights from Year One of the QPP

Posted by Christina Zink on March 22, 2019

CMS recently released the 2017 Quality Payment Program Experience Report, which provides an overview of the clinician reporting experience during the first year of the QPP with the intent of helping clinicians, stakeholders, researchers, and others to better understand the program. The report discusses both MIPS and Advanced APMs during the 2017 performance year, breaking the data down into the following four categories:

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Seven Exceptions to the Information Blocking Provision (in the Proposed Rule on Interoperability)

Posted by Christina Zink on March 6, 2019

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently proposed a new rule to support the access, exchange, and use of electronic health information (EHI). The proposed rule encourages the adoption of standardized application programming interfaces (APIs), which will help allow individuals to securely and easily access structured EHI using smartphone applications. This facilitates a patient's ability to access their health information by requiring that patients be able to electronically access all of their EHI for free. It also implements the information blocking provisions of the Cures Act.

The rule gives seven exceptions to the definition of information blocking (proposed at 45 CFR 171.201–207). If an actor (a healthcare provider, HIT developer, or HIE or network) satisfies one or more exception, their actions would not be treated as information blocking and they would not be subject to civil penalties and other disincentives under the law. These seven exceptions are outlined below (this information based on the CMS fact sheet found here).

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How To Get Free Help With MIPS And The QPP

Posted by Christina Zink on February 28, 2019

Did you know that CMS has a variety of free resources and organizations dedicated to helping clinicians navigate the Quality Payment Program? In today’s blog, we’ll help you understand your options so that when you have a question, you’ll know where to turn. (This is a good one to bookmark for later!)

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MIPS Final Score Calculation in 2019: What You Need To Know

Posted by Christina Zink on February 20, 2019

The CY 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule involves a slew of regulatory changes that will apply to the 2019 performance year. Of course, wading through the final rule to find and understand the most important features of the policy can be grueling; but you’re in luck, because we’ve already done it so you don’t have to! In today’s blog, we’re focusing on how MIPS final scores will be calculated, as well as factors that may lead to reweighting, in 2019.

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Topics: MIPS

Meet Dr. Anand Shah, The New CMS Senior Medical Advisor for Innovation

Posted by Christina Zink on January 31, 2019

In a recent announcement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma named Dr. Anand Shah, a radiation oncologist at the National Cancer Institute, as the new Senior Medical Advisor for Innovation at CMS.

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Your One-Stop Guide To Understanding QP and Partial QP Determinations in 2019

Posted by Christina Zink on January 25, 2019

When the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) was signed into law, it created two distinct pathways for reporting: the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and the Advanced Alternative Payment Model (Advanced APM). Under MIPS, Medicare Part B payments are tied directly to clinician performance based on Composite Performance Scores (CPS), whereas the Advanced APM track encourages groups of clinicians to take on greater risk (and reward) for cost and quality of care.

In this week’s blog, we’re taking a deep dive into Qualifying APM Participant (QP) and Partial QP Determinations, as laid out in the 2019 QPP final rule.

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Disillusioned About MIPS Incentives? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Be.

Posted by Christina Zink on January 11, 2019

If your organization invested significant money and time into achieving a high MIPS score in 2017, the final incentive payment you received may have felt… well, disappointing. As easy as it may be to recognize the ideological importance of shifting from fee-for-service to value-based care, many clinicians and organizations feel unable to practically justify such an investment in the absence of a meaningful financial incentive.

But there’s good news: incentives will continue to rise in coming years, and those achieving the highest scores will soon find their efforts rewarded on a much larger scale. Here’s why.

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Topics: MACRA, MIPS, QPP