Understanding and implementing quality improvement is becoming increasingly important in family medicine. More and more, public and private payers are considering quality improvement to help determine payments. A new AAFP live webcast, "Quality Improvement Basics" from noon to 1 p.m. CDT on Thursday, April 7, will equip family physicians with an understanding of quality improvement so they can begin implementing it within their practices.
Quality improvement is a process physicians can follow to evaluate their practices and improve systems that hinder their ability to take optimal care of patients, Amy Mullins, M.D., medical director of quality improvement for AAFP, told AAFP News.
"You want to be the most efficient, effective provider you can be. And the best way to do that is to do quality improvement work," she said. "Quality improvement is applicable to both disease states and actual systems and processes in your office." For example, quality improvement could address scheduling and workflow, or how you care for patients with diabetes.
Knowing the basics of quality improvement will lead to better processes and more efficiency within an office, which hopefully will lead to better outcomes for patients, Mullins said.
"The other side of that coin is you’re going to be measured in public and private contracts on the quality of care you’re delivering, and if you have basic quality improvement skills, you can start to affect some of those results," she said.
In addition to the private payers developing alternative payment models (APMs) based on quality, Medicare now is doing so, as well.
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) offers two new value-based payment tracks -- the Merit-Based Payment System (MIPS) and APM -- with the first payment year coming in 2019.
In the meantime, HHS has achieved its goal of moving 30 percent of Medicare payments into APMs this year. The agency wants to increase that to 50 percent by the end of 2018, according to "Medicare Payment Reform: Making Sense of MACRA," which Mullins wrote for the March/April issue of Family Practice Management.
And while CMS has yet to announce the details of the MACRA payment models, quality improvement is part of the score for the MIPS pathway and part of the requirement of the APM, as well, Mullins said. To participate in these payment models, "you really need to know how to do quality improvement, and this webcast is a basic look at how to do that in your practice. It’s going to give you the skills to succeed in the MIPS and APM pathways," she said.
CMS is expected to share its proposed rules related to MACRA this spring; however, it’s clear that physicians who implement quality improvement to improve care will be best positioned to reap the rewards of APMs, Mullins said.
"Quality is going to matter to everyone, and it should matter because what really is getting measured is your patients’ health," she said.
The webcast will be presented by Gretchen Dickson, M.D., M.B.A., program director of the family medicine residency at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, with CME credit still pending approval by the AAFP. The webcast is $30 for AAFP members and $110 for nonmembers.
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