At the end of June, Discern Health submitted to CMS a proposed new Improvement Activity (IA) for use in its physician Quality Payment Program. The IA addresses the need for physician practices to plan for use of personal protective equipment (PPE), which will better prepare the US health system to respond to infectious disease pandemics in the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly illustrated the necessity to maintain adequate supplies of PPE for caregivers. Especially in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, inadequate PPE supplies reduced access to care and exposed physicians and health care workers to unnecessary risk. In a survey conducted by the Primary Care Collaborative in March 2020, more than 50% of physician practices cited a lack of supplies as an obstacle to caregiving. Of those survey respondents who provided comments, 85% cited lack of access to protective equipment and testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have issued guidance and tools to optimize the supply of PPE and equipment. Physician practices that understand this guidance and have a documented PPE plan in place will be better able to respond to future public health emergencies or pandemics.
IAs are one element of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) Quality Payment Program, which increases payment to physicians who meet defined quality standards. “In the first days of COVID-19, the team at Discern discussed ways that value-based payments could respond to the crisis,” Discern Managing Partner Guy D’Andrea said. “Developing an IA is one of the tools available for the job.” In fact, CMS has already adopted, on an emergency basis, an IA that rewards physicians who participate in COVID-19 clinical trials.
Download the submission here.