Throughout the years, as doctors have (on average) been spending less and less time with their patients, consumers and the medical community alike have voiced their concerns. Based in part on these concerns, in July 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed some historic legislative changes that could essentially turn this concept around.
This legislation not only has the goal of improving the relationship between providers and their patients, but also of improving the nation’s health care system overall – starting with reducing the amount of paperwork that is necessary when billing Medicare, and in turn, increasing the amount of time that doctors and other clinicians will be able to spend with the patients they serve.
The proposed changes to the Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program will help to better streamline documentation requirements, as well as help to modernize the U.S. health care system by taking advantage of some of the latest technologies.
Just some of the ways that the new billing system will work to ease the paperwork burden that is faced by medical professionals include the use of audio and / or video applications, as well as patient-facing health portals.
The proposed legislation also strives to simplify, streamline, and offer flexibility in documentation requirements for Evaluation and Management office visits, as well as to remove the overly complex and burdensome requirements that are currently required for conducting outpatient therapy.
Because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is committed to modernizing the Medicare program through use of technology, it is hoped that medical professionals will again be able to “put patients over paperwork.”
That being said, these changes could have an impact on certain types of payments under the Medicare Part B program. Medicare Part B currently covers medications that are received by enrollees in doctors’ offices, such as infusions (as versus regular oral and topical medications).
Going forward, payments for such medications would likely more closely match their actual costs. (Provided that this legislation moves ahead as anticipated, the new payment change would take effect as soon as January 1, 2019).
For more details on these changes that are designed to modernize Medicare and to help with improving the provider-patient relationship, go to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services website at: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-proposes-historic-changes-modernize-medicare-and-restore-doctor-patient-relationship