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Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Proposed Changes Earns Physician Groups Support


Physician groups are hailing a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal for streamlining documentation requirements as welcome and time-saving.

The proposal was included in the Calendar Year 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and already has the backing of the American Medical Association as well as 150 medical groups.

Streamlining “Note Bloat” Will Save Time and Space

Currently, the documentation necessary for Medicare payment requires significant amounts of time for clinicians – time that would be better spent caring for their patients.

The so-called “note bloat” refers to the excessive Evaluation and Management documentation requirements. Not only is the documentation process time consuming, but the resulting paper overload makes it difficult to locate medical information in a patient’s record. According to the comments of the physician groups, there are pages of redundant information that must be kept. This excess paperwork makes it hard to zero in on necessary data about the most recent test results or the patient’s current condition.

One proposed change in particular that the AMA and physician groups support is putting more emphasis on the patient’s interval history. This period is the time that has elapsed since his or her previous visit. The change would allow health care providers to focus on the interval history when preparing documentation of the patient’s history. This change would eliminate much repetitive and redundant history in the patient file.

Another welcome change would be eliminating the requirement that providers re-document information that is already present in the file. If patient data is present from the patient or the staff, there is no need to duplicate it. 

In essence, these proposed changes – along with others – would support the CMS goal of increasing the amount of time that physicians have available to spend with patients rather than on their computers.

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