CMS urges providers to look at 'big picture' of IMPACT Act, health data

Patient data will be shared between the "Accountable Care Community"
Patient data will be shared between the "Accountable Care Community"

Although providers are rightfully preoccupied with the requirements of the Improving Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014, they should also be paying attention to widespread changes in data standardization and exchange, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid officials emphasized Thursday.

The IMPACT Act marks the first time CMS has attempted to unite different providers with a shared data vocabulary, said Terrence O'Malley, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital during an MLN Connects provider conference call.

Skilled nursing facilities will be required to submit standardized patient data for some quality measure domains starting on October 1, 2016.

“You're the ones that are going to be wrestling with these details. They may well consume all of your attention,” O'Malley said, noting that the coming data changes are a “revolution.”

But providers should also keep in mind a wider, community-centric focus on data interoperability as healthcare moves from fee-for-service models to value-based payments, O'Malley said.

“No one really needs to be well-connected under fee-for-service payments,” he said. “Everyone is out for his or her own bottom line and nobody cares about their total costs.”

The value-based payment shift will require effective communication between hospitals, post-acute care facilities, home health agencies, patients and their families, creating what O'Malley called an “Accountable Care Community.” This heightened focus on care coordination and larger teams of people responsible for patient outcomes will rely on the exchange of standardized and interoperable electronic health data, he said.

CMS officials also outlined an interoperability “roadmap” during Thursday's call that would allow for patients, their families and healthcare providers to send, receive, find and use electronic health information. Officials also shared information about the development of the CMS Data Element Library, which is expected to be available later this year.

Click here to view the full slide deck from the MLN Connects call.