ACMSS Welcomes the Promise of 2017 for America’s 21st Century Healthcare System
Despite the uncertainties and looming change surrounding American healthcare in the New Year, The American College of Medical Scribe Specialists (ACMSS) is optimistic about 2017 and beyond, and believes the transformation toward a value-based, patient-centric, patient-safe healthcare system has gained unstoppable momentum. The Jan. 1 implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act becoming law, and even the current discussion around the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all show promise for a transformative year. Partnered together, ACMSS believes it is not difficult given our deep expertise.
Charting the future of the Affordable Care Act
With the Trump administration intending to appoint staunch ACA opponent Rep. Tom Price of Georgia to be the next Health and Human Services Secretary, the administration and the GOP leadership in Congress apparently are rushing to repeal the Act. ACMSS urges Congress to not repeal the Act, but to work together to preserve the ACA, and key components including coverage for everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
“As a two-time airbag injury survivor, I believe that coverage matters to every American,” said ACMSS Executive Director Kristin Hagen, CMSS, CPHIMS. “I am fortunate to have pioneered to wellness through Integrative Medical Institute, a highly specialized physician and center that was ready for me through Gary Ruelas, DO, PhD. I could not have done it without highly advanced precision and preventive medicine, and innovative models of care and referrals, which we won’t have without the combination of insurance coverage that millions of Americans have because of the Affordable Care Act, and the standards of care MACRA sets forth.”
ACMSS advises against any actions that take away insurance coverage that millions of people in America now have because of the ACA. Other prominent healthcare organizations are doing the same. ACMSS advocates for a forward-facing healthcare system that has been designed, one foundational level at a time in good governance, around the needs of the people. ACMSS makes available its technical expertise and patient safety advocacy to ensure best care for others, whether faced with injury or illness, or otherwise maintaining and advancing health.
“Today’s most notable airbag survivors need care, and preventive care to quickly reverse the effects of serious injury and maintain health,” Hagen said. “MACRA is kicking off America’s innovation blueprint. ACMSS is off to a strong start with all constituents and excited about the new year. Together, in non-profit partnerships, America is uniting strong to the national goals for the people. America deserves access to, and treatment of 21st-century care enabled through complete wellness and wellness-driven systems and initiatives.”
In a January 3 letter to Congress, the American Medical Association (AMA) urged lawmakers to not repeal the ACA until they know what, if any changes, they will replace it with, and not to make changes that would take away from the progress made on reducing the number of uninsured.
“We believe that before any action is taken through reconciliation or other means that would potentially alter coverage, policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies,” wrote AMA CEO James Madara. “Patients and other stakeholders should be able to clearly compare current policy to new proposals so they can make informed decisions about whether it represents a step forward in the ongoing process of health reform.”
For more detail on the AMA’s position, see the Huffington Post article titled, “Doctors Orders: Don’t Repeal Obamacare Until You Have a Plan to Replace It.”
ACMSS advocates with clear understanding that health reform is an ongoing process, and that the reforms with regard to preexisting conditions are especially vital, among other key provisions. A new analysis from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that since the ACA became law, millions of Americans no longer face coverage denials, higher costs, or “coverage carve-outs” because of their medical histories. The study shows what happened when the ACA’s major reforms took effect in 2014 and found that, between 2010 and 2014, the share of Americans with preexisting conditions who went without health insurance all year fell by 22 percent, meaning that 3.6 million fewer people with pre-existing conditions went uninsured.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey released in the first week of this year has found that only 20 percent of Americans support repealing the ACA before a replacement plan has been devised. In another study released that week, researchers from the Urban Institute—with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—determined that repeal of Obamacare without a replacement plan will raise the national bill for uncompensated care from $656 billion to $1.7 trillion over a 10-year period.
“Americans need insurance, and tens of millions more have it because of the Affordable Care Act,” says Hagen. “In our new political climate, we cannot lose sight of the immensely positive effect the ACA has had on providing access to healthcare for all Americans, and we all need to work together to find workable solutions that do not abolish that progress. ACMSS also advocates for referring to the law by its correct name—the Affordable Care Act, and not by other pseudonyms. Healthcare is bipartisan and is built by and for the people. Each time legislation has been passed, a key comment period has been open enabling a democratic process prior to any enacted legislation. Healthcare is innovating today with increased adoption seen, with unstoppable momentum, January 1, 2017 on, ready for MACRA.”
In early December the hospital lobby sent a wish list to the president-elect of items that need to be included in any replacement for the ACA. Near the end of that wish list, American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack made a plea.
“Given that healthcare represents a significant portion of the economy and essential public services, we urge you not to make any abrupt changes that could lead to significant instability for patients, providers, insurers and others,” wrote Pollack.
Jumping into MACRA
ACMSS is proactively advocating for progress through the MACRA Quality Payment Program, designed to transform America’s 21st century health system into being clinician-driven and patient-centered. ACMSS is urging the Department of Health and Human Services to leave MACRA as is so that our healthcare system can continue to evolve toward a patient-centric, patient-safe system based on prevention, wellness, disease reversal, and reportable, evidence-based sustainable outcomes. ACMSS has solid plans in place, here today, made available through the specialties, creating infrastructural build and design through evidence-based care and models.”
“Together, we are innovating through our nation’s largest insurer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and through Integrative Medicine, that in which we overcame, setting key standards in building and designing our new healthcare system,” Hagen says. “Today we must advocate for freedom of choice and care back to wellness. Physicians need direct patient-care time, enabled through CMS approved Physician/Certified Medical Scribe Specialist teams, in alignment with MACRA, to improve the lives of millions of patients. It is time for MACRA, incorporating Quality, Cost, Advancing Care Information and Clinical Improvement Activities, the key elements of MACRA’s focus on high-quality, value-based care centered on the patient.”
Keeping MACRA as is includes no weakening of regulations regarding meaningful use of Certified Electronic Health Records and Technology (CEHRT), as has been proposed by some in the healthcare industry. ACMSS story is made possible through understanding that all data is relevant in writing the complete patient’s story.
“MACRA focuses on clinical outcomes, the very essence of essential information that leads to wellness care, and preventive care, through standardized framework of clinical documentation inputted by appropriately credentialed and certified Physician/CMSS Teams,” said Hagen. “There is absolutely nothing in the world that compares to being and feeling well, and America deserves the ability to have and to keep affordable access to care, most notably integrative preventive care. In America, we must always rise to the occasion and, together, build our 21st century care systems, here today.”
Precision Medicine gets a boost with the 21st Century Cures Act
ACMSS also applauds the signing on December 13 of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, which expands President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and encourages wider use of electronic health records by both federal agencies and the healthcare industry. The Act also supports the president’s BRAIN research center, addresses suicide and serious mental illness, and supports the vice president’s Cancer Moonshot, which is designed to accelerate discoveries by transforming cancer research.
“ACMSS is an enthusiastic supporter of these initiatives, which support healthcare research and technology focused on creating value-based, patient-centric care,” said Hagen. “Precision medicine is the future, taking healthcare leaps further and making the ordinary extraordinary. It gives patients more choices and more involvement in their care. Precision medicine enables and inspires new ways of thinking, centered on prevention, wellness and disease reversal.”
ACMSS is especially hopeful about the Act’s continuing funding support of the Precision Medicine Initiative, begun in 2015 by President Obama. The mission statement of the Initiative explains the purpose behind it: “To enable a new era of medicine through research, technology, and policies that empower patients, researchers, and providers to work together toward development of individualized treatments.”
ACMSS appreciates the research focus of the efforts supported in the entire 21st Century Cures Act. Executive Director Hagen experienced the difficulties first hand trying to work in a paper-based healthcare system researching ways to overcome her debilitating injuries. She knows the value of coordinated research.
“Precision medicine and electronic health records would have made my journey much less arduous,” says Hagen. “It took more than 19 years of my own research, education, and studies and then several years of ongoing work with my healthcare physician to create a wellness plan to bring me back to full recovery. I could not have done it without precision medicine, innovative models of care, and a highly specialized center that was ready for me.”
ACMSS, which is founded on innovation and research, understands the immense complexity of healthcare and meaningful utilization of clinical documentation. ACMSS believes Certified Medical Scribe Specialists will be a valuable part of the transformation of our 21st century healthcare system to precision medicine focused on wellness and prevention. Certified Medical Scribe Specialists help practitioners stay focused on providing quality patient-centered care, while relieving practitioners from the burden of charting patient encounters, and assisting innovating clinical/non-clinical workflows that require additional advanced and detailed documentation. Physician/CMSS Team services are becoming even more valuable now that MACRA has been implemented.
A new curriculum means expanded horizons for Certified Medical Scribe Specialists
Another bright spot on the horizon for ACMSS and reforming our healthcare system is the CAAHEP-proposed curriculum for Certified Medical Scribe Specialists, scheduled to be released January 19, just one day before inauguration of the new administration. The revision will transform America with a new framework of care. Curriculum may be viewed at caahep.org/mssrb – “Appendix B, Curriculum in the Standards and Guidelines for the Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Medical Scribe Specialist (Standards).” The MSSRB revised the standards, which were initially adopted in 2015 by CAAHEP, MSSRB, and American College of Medical Scribe Specialists (ACMSS).
“CAAHEP is the premiere ‘gold’ standard in leading academic allied health education professions through third-party programmatic accreditation and is the current standard for accredited institutions and universities,” said ACMSS Executive Director Kristin Hagen, who is also a member of the MSSRB.
The new medial scribe curriculum guidelines go into far more detail than the 2015 version, including delving into national standards such as MACRA and its Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The standards also contain a sharper focus on wellness, prevention, integrative medicine and care, and complementary and alternative medicine. To view and compare the former and new curricula, go to http://caahep.org/MSSRB.
ACMSS believes Certified Medical Scribe Specialists will be a valuable part of the transformation of our 21st century healthcare system to precision medicine focused on wellness and prevention. Certified Medical Scribe Specialists help practitioners stay focused on providing quality patient-centered care, while relieving practitioners from the burden of charting patient encounters, and assisting innovative clinical/non-clinical workflows that require additional advanced and detailed documentation. ACMSS assists academic institutions see the breadth available from certificate to hybrid degree at all levels, certificate programs, associate degree, bachelors degree, and graduate residency programs.
ACMSS continues to partner for innovation
ACMSS enables physicians the autonomy to practice the art and science of medicine across the specialties. Physicians and population in urgent care, primary care and internal medicine all focus on preventive medicine and disease reversal. Those of specialty education and practice will additionally focus on innovation and care of patient population through patient education, prevention, and disease reversal. We will continue to work with CMS on innovating toward the future.
The CMS blog of January 5 titled “Transforming Health Care Delivery through the CMS Innovation Center: Better Care, Healthier People, and Smarter Spending,” by Dr. Patrick Conway, Acting Principal Deputy Administrator, lays out some of the many strides that have been made during the past seven years leading up to the implementation of MACRA, which ACMSS believes will keep the momentum going.
“Before 2010, there had been only modest efforts to improve care and reduce costs,” Conway wrote. “Medicare—the country’s largest health care insurance program—was largely paying for health services based on volume—where providers were paid for every service they ordered or performed—which didn’t necessarily improve the health of beneficiaries or preserve the program for future generations. To improve our health care system, the largest payer of health care stepped up to partner with providers, doctors and other clinicians, states, private payers, consumers, and others to spur innovation. The market and people in communities across the nation have responded this initiative in extraordinary ways and delivered better care to patients.” The entire article may be viewed here.
CMS requires that if they are not licensed clinicians themselves, personnel must attest for Meaningful Use (now under MACRA’s Advancing Care Information category) and be certified. Certification is available through the CMS-approved Certified Medical Scribe Specialist credential. ACMSS provides Physicians with annual reprintable Physician/CMSS certificates, without lapse in CMS or practice compliance through required annual membership renewal and minimum 3 hours of Continuing Scribe Education, growing CMSS’ knowledge, skill sets, and professionalism. Physician/CMSS teams are real-time, onsite personnel, often pre-med, in which clinicians are working to mentor future clinicians. CMSS teams are protected US credentials. Together, we fulfill essential purpose scribing our nation’s stories together, toward wellness, patient-centered.
An increasing body of research is showing that the use of Certified Medical Scribe Specialists is resulting in improved physician/licensed independent clinician productivity, cost and time savings, better patient satisfaction, and patient safety, especially when the physician/licensed independent clinician is not electronically savvy, and data entry causes fatigue and dissatisfaction. This will be a mainstay moving into MACRA.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that if they are not licensed clinicians themselves, personnel must attest for Meaningful Use (now under MACRA’s Advancing Care Information category) and be certified. Certification is available through the CMS-approved Certified Medical Scribe Specialist credential.
ACMSS offers several pathways for Certified Medical Scribe Specialists. Please contact ACMSS Executive Director Kristin Hagen directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-987-3692 if you have any questions regarding the ACMSS program and/or materials.
The American College of Medical Scribe Specialists is the nation’s only nonprofit professional society representing more than 19,000 Medical Scribes in over 1,900 medical institutions. ACMSS partners with academic institutions, non-profit partners, and medical scribe corporations to offer both education-to-certification and employment-to-certification pathways. ACMSS advances the needs of the medical scribe industry through certification, public advocacy, secure innovative systems design, individualized and customized consulting, and continuing education for improved care coordination and patient-centric care toward wellness. ACMSS is available for public speaking engagements and customized consulting serving healthcare.