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Providers may earn MIPS credit for COVID-19 data reporting

Participation in the new COVID-19 clinical trials improvement activity carries a high weight from a scoring perspective.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Providers may now earn credit in the merit-based incentive payment system, or MIPS, by contributing to scientific research and evidence to fight the coronavirus.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is encouraging clinicians to take MIPS credit for participation in clinical trials and reporting clinical information to the new COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity.

MIPS is a performance-based track of the quality payment program that incentivizes quality and value.

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CMS is encouraging clinicians such as physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and others, to contribute to research that will provide data to help drive improvement in patient care and develop innovative best practices to manage the spread of COVID-19 within communities.

To receive credit for the new MIPS COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity, clinicians must attest that they participate in a COVID-19 clinical trial using a drug or biological product to treat a patient with a COVID-19 infection and report their findings through a clinical data repository or clinical data registry for the duration of their study. 

The new improvement activity provides flexibility in the type of clinical trial, which could include the traditional double-blind placebo-controlled trial to an adaptive or pragmatic design that flexes to workflow and clinical practice.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Beyond the contribution to fighting COVID-19, participating in the program carries a high weight from a scoring perspective.

This means that clinicians who report this activity will automatically earn half of the total credit needed to earn a maximum score in the MIPS improvement activities performance category, which counts as 15% of the MIPS final score.

For example, clinical trials could include those conducted by the National Institute of Health.

Clinicians could also report through a clinical data repository, such as Oracle's COVID-19 Therapeutic Learning System. Oracle has developed and donated a system to the U.S. government that allows clinicians and patients at no cost to record the effectiveness of promising COVID-19 drug therapies.

Having clinicians use an open source data tool to submit their findings will bring the results of their research to the forefront of healthcare much faster, leading to improvements in care delivery and the ability to treat COVID-19 patients, CMS said.

THE LARGER TREND

This action, along with new regulatory flexibilities, are efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and are part of the ongoing White House Task Force initiatives.

MIPS and the advanced alternative payment model are two quality-payment programs under MACRA.

ON THE RECORD

"The best scientific and medical minds in the world are working night and day to find treatments to combat Coronavirus," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "But without solid data, their efforts are liable to run up against a brick wall. At the direction of President Trump, CMS is supporting efforts of researchers to obtain solid, actionable data to accelerate the development of new treatments and our understanding of the coronavirus. Today's action encourages clinicians to report data that will help us monitor the spread of the virus, find innovative medical solutions, and unleash scientific discovery as we seek to overcome this terrible disease."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com