The CMS hinted at some of the ways it plans to use technology to get patients more timely access to healthcare services and data as part of its latest set of proposed payment rules. The agency on Monday issued several proposed updates to its payment rules for 2020, including changes to the Medicare physician fee schedule and quality payment program. As part of its proposed changes to the Medicare physician fee schedule for next year, the CMS said it wants to add new codes for telehealth treatment for opioid use disorders.
The agency proposed adding three new codes for bundled telehealth treatment for individuals who are addicted to opioids, which includes coverage for medication-assisted treatment. The bundled payment program would also cover overall patient management, care coordination, individual and group psychotherapy and substance-use counseling.
That's received a positive response from telehealth groups, who say added telehealth coverage will help to bring behavioral health and substance abuse disorder treatment to more patients.
"CMS is breaking down barriers to care and enabling patients to receive high quality treatment where and when they need it," Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, said in a statement.
The CMS in its quality payment program proposal also issued requests for information on several areas of its Promoting Interoperability performance category, including requests for feedback on ensuring patients have timely access to their data and integrating patient-generated data into the EHR.
The agency is considering cutting the time period within which hospitals are required to share health data with patients.
Currently, as part of the "Provide Patients Electronic Access to Their Health Information" measure, Merit-based Incentive Payment System-eligible clinicians must make health data available to patients in a "timely" manner. That's defined as within four business days of when the data became available to the clinician.
As part of its proposed rule, the agency is now seeking comment on whether MIPS-eligible clinicians should make health data available "immediately" through an application programming interface, with "immediately" defined as no later than one business day after it's available to the clinician.
The CMS is also seeking input on integrating patient-generated health data into EHRs, including allowing patients to add information to their own medical record.
"We believe the bi-directional availability of data, meaning that both patients and their health care providers have real-time access to the patient's electronic health record, is critical," the proposal reads. "This includes patients being able to import their health data into their medical record and have it be available to healthcare providers."
The CMS is requesting comment on whether providers should be expected to collect information from patients outside of scheduled appointments, and if so, what type of data—such as data from wearable devices, sensors and other technologies that could support care management. The agency is also looking into how it can incentivize providers to capture and use this type of data.
The public comment period for the proposed rules close September 27.