Medicare Continues Focus on Technology and Increased Patient Care

While the US healthcare industry awaits action from Congress, a look at the 2013 Medicare Fee Schedule reinforces Medicare’s movement towards more efficient patient care.  Review our recent blog posts; the vast majority of them are about Electronic Medical Records, Meaningful Use, and ACOs.  The same policy resonates throughout: efficient and increased patient care.

 EMRs allow us to create Health Information Exchanges which permit us to track, and subsequently analyze, far more information than ever before.  This information not only makes providers more accountable to their patients, but permits researchers the opportunity to go through, literally, millions of patient records in order to assist in discovering cures to diseases.  Additionally, meaningful use bonuses incentivize doctors to begin implementing the use of EMRs.

Furthermore, the move to ACO’s is largely predicated upon the ability of a group of doctors to create a more efficient and higher quality patient experience.  From the CMS website, “[the] Shared Savings Program is designed to improve beneficiary outcomes and increase value of care by promoting accountability for the care of Medicare FFS beneficiaries, requiring coordinated care for all services provided under Medicare FFS and encouraging investment in infrastructure and redesigned care processes.

As discussed in my colleague’s posts, the 2013 Fee Schedule adds CPT codes 99495 and 99496.  These codes were established to increase the care a patient receives once he or she is discharged in hope of reducing the likelihood of a patient being readmitted.  The other large change to the 2013 Schedule Fee Schedule is the addition of numerous new preventative services which assist in the education of patients.  Moving forward, it is clear that CMS is trying to get providers on board with the old notion of quality care over quantity of care.