CMS releases API to help providers understand, choose MACRA measures

By Jonah Comstock
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The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA, is coming soon, and with it CMS's Quality Payment Program, which requires providers who bill Medicare more than $30,000 a year to report certain performance measures in order to adjust their payments based on performance. 

For providers who don't have time to slog through the 2,400 page final rule, figuring out what those measures are and how to report them is a challenge. So last week CMS released an API aimed at addressing that uncertainty.

“An important part of the Quality Payment Program is to make it easier and less expensive to participate, so clinicians may focus on seeing patients,” Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator of CMS, said in a statement. “This first release is a step in that process, both for physicians and the technologists who support them.”

Under the QPP, different providers can choose different reporting measures that make sense for them, Steve Daniels, president of Able Health, explained to MobiHealthNews. Able Health is a health tech company founded specifically to support providers in the transition to MACRA.

"[The API dataset is] a list of all the measures that are used across the multiple performance measures," Daniels said. "So that includes quality measures, advancing care information measures, which is the new iteration of Meaningful Use, and then there’s also a category called improvement activities. Out of all of these measures, providers have to select which measures they report. So along with a list there’s descriptions of the measures, there’s lots of metadata about the measures in terms of what categories and measures CMS considers high priority, is it a measure that’s applicable to a certain specialty, and all these criteria influence how providers go about selecting a measure set."

CMS itself created the first app based on the API, called Explore Measures. It allows users to "select measures that likely fit their practice, assemble them into a group, and print or save them for reference," according to CMS.

In addition, Able Health has built a tool using the API called the Able Health MIPS Measures Knowledge Base, which is designed to make the information about quality measures more accessible and searchable.

"We get inquiries about these to our website almost constantly, and it’s really useful as a technology vendor to have access to these measures available to us via an API because it means we were able to spin out a knowledge base within literally hours of CMS releasing an API," Daniels said. "The same day we actually launched our knowledge base, and we’re guaranteed to always have the latest information from CMS. It will effectively never be out of date."