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In the fourth-quarter, dermatology practices should begin looking toward the new year. One looming project on the “to-do” list should be ensuring that your practice is compliant with MACRA, the federal government's quality payment program, which is heading into its third year.

Right now, the revised legislation is in a comment review period, and the proposed changes are not finalized. However, the approved version was slated to be released last month, and organizations will have a short window in which to ramp up compliance efforts before the requirements go into effect on January 1, 2019.

The suggested changes center around four different areas:

  • An increased emphasis on quantifying the cost of care
  • A focus on enabling interoperability
  • Reworking of who qualifies for MIPS reporting
  • New requirements that address the opioid crisis

Although not all these shifts apply to every dermatology practice, specialty physicians should familiarize themselves with the new rules and be prepared to navigate them come the first of the year.

Benefiting from a Knowledgeable Partner

While most practices concede that remaining abreast of MACRA nuances is important, they often struggle with the task, due to competing priorities and the complex nature of the program. One way to address this challenge is to work with a technology partner that is committed to staying ahead of new developments and facilitating consistent and accurate reporting and compliance.

Here are just a few areas in which the right technology partner can make a difference.

Ensuring proper certification. Under the category of promoting interoperability, the proposed 2019 MACRA requirements dictate that organizations must upgrade their technology to a system that has received the latest EMR certification (2015; for information, visit: By employing the most up-to-date solution, practices not only can comply with the legislation but be confident that their electronic medical record (EMR) is capable of reliably capturing and accurately submitting a wide array of measures, including the ones that best reflect practice performance.

Streamlining reporting. If practices use EMR technology that integrates clinical data with financial and operational information, they can capture a complete picture of their performance. Moreover, when an EMR and Practice Management can speak to each other from start to end, this further automates the process.

For example, customizable workflows that are designed for your specialty practice can be customized with required data fields related to the measures a practices reports. This saves valuable time and effort in the long haul, reducing the need to address holes in reports or engage in rework after the fact.

Rapidly delivering the latest innovations. Since MACRA is always evolving, the technology that supports it is, too. While a good thing in theory, it can be time-consuming for practices to stay current with upgrades and patches. However, with a cloud-based program, providers do not have to get into the weeds to obtain the most recent version with the latest features. The vendor tweaks the solution and then automatically updates the technology via the cloud. This seamless access allows providers to spend more time with patients and less time updating their systems.

Remaining abreast of changes. Keeping up with MACRA and other regulations that affect practice operations, reporting, and reimbursement can be a full-time job. In many cases, a dermatology practice—especially a small one—does not have the bandwidth to stay current. However, a forward-thinking technology vendor can serve as a valuable guide to MACRA and MIPS, as the company has dedicated professionals focusing on the program and its nuances. The vendor can proactively reach out to the practice with information about what's coming and what the organization needs to work on, brainstorming strategies to make sure attestation goes smoothly. It can also provide training around MACRA, discussing what's new, how the program affects providers, the financial impacts of any changes and whether there are adjustments in how reports are generated or submitted.

Now is the Time

January 1 will be here before we know it. Specialty practices that commit to preparing for MACRA's new developments and partner with a knowledgeable expert that can facilitate robust and accurate reporting will reap the financial benefits of the MACRA program and avoid any negative consequences.

Courtney Tesvich, vice president of Regulatory at Nextech Systems, is responsible for ensuring that Nextech's products meet government certification requirements and client needs related to the regulatory environment. She is also a Registered Nurse with more than 20 years in the healthcare field, 15 of which have been focused on quality improvements and regulatory compliance.

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