Both private and governmental payors are linking payment to documentation of key quality measures, such as those seen in Medicare’s Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI). To assist in PQRI reporting and rheumatologists’ own quality-improvement efforts, this month the ACR will release a Web-based quality-measures recording and reporting tool called the Rheumatology Clinical Registry (RCR).
Initially the RCR will have four main functions:
- Help members to meet registry reporting requirements to qualify for the PQRI bonus;
- Be interoperable with ACR practice improvement modules, which can be used in the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM’s) rheumatology recertification process;
- Assist practices in implementing a standardized patient history; and
- Enable participants to benchmark their practice against others nationwide.
“As individual physicians, we are going to be held to certain standards whether we think they are a good idea or not,” says Stanley Cohen, MD, president-elect of the ACR and a rheumatologist in private practice in Dallas. “Short term, we want to give members the tools needed to respond to these standards in a less labor- and time-intensive manner. Longer term, it will allow physicians to become used to accumulating and looking at data to improve practice delivery.”
The RCR is a Web-based tool easily accessed by anyone with a computer, Web browser, and Internet connection. The tool’s individual screens have drop-down boxes that can be checked off either at the point of contact or after the visit. The RCR generates clinical reminders based on ACR-approved quality measures for rheumatoid arthritis, gout, osteoporosis, and drug safety, as well as American Medical Association– and Medicare-approved osteoarthritis indicators. Data that are used across several parts of the registry or from one visit to the next persist and need only be entered once.
For practices not using computers, paper forms can be printed, completed by the patient or physician, and returned for entry into the RCR. Each record will be confidentially and securely stored, and can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer.
“A modest additional payment is already being paid by Medicare to physicians who document completion of certain quality indicators through the PQRI program,” says Dr. Cohen. “We want to make sure our members have the tools needed to respond to these changes with minimal effort and expense.”
The RCR also incorporates a report-generating function. In addition to providing easy filing of PQRI reports—saving time and helping to ensure that complete, accurate PQRI quality data are submitted—modules allow individual physicians or practices to track their adherence to quality-improvement goals. As more practices adopt the RCR, information should become available to benchmark physicians and practices against their peers internal to the practice, regionally, and nationwide.