Relieving Federal Burdens on Healthcare Facilities and how Providers can Utilize Savings

By Larry Lacombe

Health Affairs reports that 81 percent of US physicians in four common specialties reported they spend more time and effort dealing with quality measures than three years ago. Only 27 percent of those surveyed said current measures represent the quality of care they provide. 

When CMS launched its “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative last year, they embarked in a process to identify what stakeholders consider burdens. As CMS continues to update and streamline their procedures to free up time and costs, healthcare facilities must take advantage of their newfound assets.

Here’s an outline onhow healthcare providers can take advantage of CMS’s reduced burdens, including:

  • Invest in projects you’ve been putting off
  • Unify systems across multiple hospitals
  • Focus on your ambulatory care strategy

Regulation is necessary to ensure healthcare providers and facilities uphold nationwide standards in patient care. While accreditation strengthens patient safety, measures quality and safety of care, and holds healthcare providers accountable to their patients and the community they serve, federal regulation requires that healthcare providers meet minimum standards – or face penalties if they fall short.

Regulation and accreditation are both important, but it takes a great deal of physicians’ time. Health Affairs reports that 81 percent of US physicians in four common specialties reported they spend more time and effort dealing with quality measures than three years ago. Only 27 percent of those surveyed said current measures represent the quality of care they provide.

Ensuring facilities are meeting and exceeding standards of patient care should not be a burden. When CMS  proposed a rule to remove “unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome Medicare compliance requirements for healthcare facilities.”

Less red tape means less paperwork, and more time for everything else. How can healthcare facilities take advantage of CMS’s reduced burdens?

Invest in projects you’ve been putting off.

When CMS launched its “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative last year, they embarked in a process to identify what stakeholders consider burdens. They found “3,040 mentions of burden,” which CMS then categorized as relating to “1,146 different issues.” Since CMS has begun addressing these issues, and with the current initiatives to remove the unnecessary and excessively burdensome requirements, “CMS projects savings of nearly $5.2 billion and a reduction of 53 million hours through 2021. That results in saving 6,000 years of burden hours over the next three years.”

Imagine the projects your healthcare facility could invest in over the next several years with a fraction of that savings. Before you begin looking at renovation blueprints, though, evaluate the projects highest on your list from a patient-care standpoint. If CMS is allowing you to reallocate time and money from burdensome Medicare processes, begin your exploration with systems, investments and procedures that will renew focus on patient care within your facility.

Unify systems across multiple hospitals.

As CMS notes, many of their new proposals will “simplify and streamline Medicare’s conditions of participation, conditions for coverage, and other requirements for participation for facilities.” This will allow organizations to meet health and safety standards more efficiently.

With the goal of efficiency in mind, additional proposals will “allow multi-hospital systems to have unified and integrated Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement programs for all of their member hospitals.” Just as implementing standardized processes in a single hospital can help tackle new regulations, standardizing measurements and assessments across multiple hospitals can help facilities track their metrics on one scale, remain ahead of the curve for changes in best practices or new regulations, and further lower costs beyond the initial time-savings of lessened paperwork.

Focus on your ambulatory care strategy.

As healthcare strategies move further into the acute-care space, hospitals must reconcile their focus of hospital-centered care to ambulatory-centered care. CMS claims their new provisions will also “streamline hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgical center requirements for conducting comprehensive medical histories and physical assessments.” A hospital or healthcare system that can provide all the services a patient needs in one (physical or technological) place – from general practitioners and specialists to telehealth advising and efficient follow-up care – will not only retain clients beyond the acute space but may even draw more patients via its ambulatory system.

Final thoughts.

As CMS continues to update and streamline their procedures to free up time and costs, healthcare facilities must take advantage of their newfound assets. From surveying associates to investing in new systems to implementing best practices across multiple hospitals or developing a strong ambulatory care strategy, CMS’s proposals to lift unnecessary regulations should not only relieve burdens on those working directly with Medicare, but for all associates in the healthcare system.

Larry Lacombe is the Vice President of Program Development and Facilities Compliance at Medxcel, specializing in facilities management, safety, environment of care, emergency management and compliance. Medxcel provides healthcare service support products and drives in-house capabilities, savings and efficiencies for healthcare organizations. 

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