Beta testing of standardized data elements for post-acute care will kick off in November in 14 geographic markets, officials with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the RAND Corporation disclosed on Thursday.

The RAND Corporation, which is contracting with CMS to develop the elements, has already begun contacting eligible providers in the markets, Maria Edelen, Ph.D., senior behavioral scientist with the organization told participants on a Special Open Door Forum conference call. The geographical markets include Chicago, Houston, Boston and Los Angeles.

The testing of the IMPACT Act-required elements will include patient interviews and record-review items, recorded electronically on handheld tablets provided to the facilities volunteering in the project.

Data elements involving cognitive function and mental status, special services, treatments and interventions, and impairments were in original proposals for the different post-acute settings for fiscal 2018, Edelen said. That plan fell through after providers said the addition of the elements of the rules would be “too much, too soon.”

Delaying introduction of the elements also gives providers greater “recovery” periods between major releases, and allows for additional testing, she noted.

The national beta test of the data elements will continue through May 2018, with final reports slated to be compiled through September of that year when the RAND contract concludes. Stakeholders also will get a chance to submit comments beginning in spring.