By 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expects hospitals to be able to use electronic health record (EHR) data for all reports required by the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program. That’s according to a CMS proposed rule on changes to the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems, or IPPS, which determines the Medicare payment rate for operating costs and capital expenses.
The proposed rule, which was published in the Federal Register on May 5, primarily addresses provisions of last year’s health care reform bill and, once finalized, will go into effect on Oct. 1, the first day of the 2012 federal fiscal year. The comment period for the proposed rule closes on June 20.
The rule attempts to revise IPPS through coding adjustments, changes to wage indices and revised reporting requirements. The IQR Program comes into play because, under the proposed rule, CMS has made the reporting of hospital quality data a condition for receiving the full annual payment under IPPS.
To ease the reporting burden, CMS plans to align the IQR Program’s reporting requirements with other programs, including the hospital quality measures required be meaningful use. This makes sense. Under meaningful use, quality reports must be submitted to the Department of Health & Human Services using a certified EHR system beginning with the 2012 fiscal year, provided that HHS is able to receive electronic submissions by that time.
Such an alignment of incentives makes sense. If all goes according to plan, hospitals would have three years to prepare to use EHR systems to submit IQR Program data. Even if HHS isn’t ready for electronic submissions by Oct. 1, deadlines have been set far enough in advance that organizations should not be caught off guard.