Massachusetts Medical Society: Make the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) work for you

Make the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) work for you



The loss of Dr. Bolanos and Dr. Field
Dear Colleagues,
Last weekend, the medical community lost two dedicated, widely admired physicians in an unfathomably tragic way.
Ours is a close-knit community; many of us have trained and/or worked together throughout the courses of our careers, and undoubtedly many of you had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Lina Bolanos and Dr. Richard Field. To you all I extend my deepest condolences.
Sincerely yours,
Hank Dorkin, MD
President, MMS

Make the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) work for you 
Join the New England QIN-QIO for an interactive webinar, MIPS In The Real World: How Your Peers Are Achieving Success. The webinar will feature two Massachusetts practices that have discovered how to successfully report for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) in the 2017 transitional year. This online event is ideal for clinicians, office managers, practice administrators, and anyone else who wants to learn how to easily avoid a negative payment adjustment for MIPS in 2017. Hosts Leila Volinsky, Kelsey Baker, and Karen Evans, from the New England QIN-QIO, will highlight actionable steps. The webinar will be held Wednesday, May 17, 3:00-4:00 p.m.; register.
For ongoing information and support, visit Making Sense of MACRA: The Quality Payment Program. This website from New England QIN-QIO will help guide your transition from PQRS to MIPS, connect you with your state leads, provide resources and timely information, and leverage your data to choose measures and review performance.

Find out your participation status in MIPS 

  • Participation notification letters from CMS recently notified clinicians of their MIPS status. The letter informed clinicians whether or not they, or the individuals in their group, are exempt from MIPS. It called on clinicians to review the information and determine whether they plan to participate as a group or individually. See a sample letter on the education page of
  • This interactive tool on the CMS Quality Payment Program website can determine whether or not you should participate in the MIPS track of the Quality Payment Program in 2017, and link you to relevant resources. 
  • This participation fact sheet outlines who can participate now, who’s exempt, and next steps. If you are not in the program in 2017, you can participate voluntarily and you will not be subject to payment adjustments. 
  • This article, 8 Ways to Know if You Should Participate in the Quality Payment Program, comes from CMS (available from 5:00 p.m., Friday, May 12).
  • For the latest information, visit the Quality Payment Program website. The Quality Payment Program Service Center may be reached at 1-866-288-8292 (TTY 1-877-715- 6222), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. ET or via email at

Look online for up-to-date immunization best practice 
The CDC has released the General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization as an online report. These guidelines replace the General Recommendations on Immunization, last published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) in 2011. The online format will enable more frequent updates. The General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization goes beyond vaccination recommendations. It helps providers assess vaccine benefits and risks, use recommended administration practices, understand the most effective strategies for ensuring that vaccination coverage remains high, and communicate the importance of vaccination to reduce the effects of vaccine-preventable disease. Continuing education (CE) credit is available for the General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization.

  • To receive updates on this and other recommendations and guidelines from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, sign up
  • If you have questions regarding immunization practice, please send them to
  • If you have questions about immunizations, call the MDPH Immunization Program at (617) 983-6800 and ask to speak to an immunization epidemiologist. 

Mark your calendars: The Public Health Leadership Forum is moving to the fall 
John Auerbach, MBA, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, will be the keynote speaker at the 14th Public Health Leadership Forum. This event (traditionally in spring) will be held October 26, 1:00­-5:00 p.m., at MMS Headquarters in Waltham. The annual forum convenes leaders in public health, medicine, policy, industry, and the community to discuss pressing public health issues and identify ways to work together for positive outcomes. For information, email

I heart history: Commemorate cardiac health breakthroughs 
In Spare Parts: Hope, Drama & Dispute, Professor Shelley McKellar examines cardiac transplantation alongside the development of artificial hearts and replacement therapies for hearth failure patients during the 1960s. This lecture commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first heart transplant operation. Dr. McKellar holds the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, Ontario. The event will be held at Harvard Medical School (Cannon Room/Building C, 240 Longwood Ave.), Tuesday, May 23, 5:30 p.m. RSVP Kerry O’Connor, (617) 432-5169, or

MMS testimony updates and opportunities  

Expanding substance use treatment and prevention 
The MMS testified this week before the Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Committee on bills that seek to address the opioid epidemic and prevent youth substance use. The MMS supports the following bills and policies:

  • Bill 1101, An Act Improving Access to Naloxone, potentially eliminates a barrier at pharmacies to prescribing and dispensing naloxone. It aligns with a resolution passed at the MMS Annual Meeting last month to promote awareness of naloxone standing orders. 
  • Bill 1101 would expand addiction treatment in houses of correction, aligning with MMS policy to increase state and county inmates’ access to treatment for opioid use disorders. 
  • The expansion of the coverage treatment mandate from 14 days to 28 or 30 days, proposed in House Bill 2394 and Senate Bill 1103.  
  • Senate Bill 1096, aimed at preventing adolescent substance use, will be especially important given the impending commercial recreational marijuana industry in the state.

Facilitating medical decision making for incapacitated patients 
The MMS testified at the State House this week on bills that would facilitate medical decision making for incapacitated patients lacking health care proxies. The MMS supports the following bills and policies:

  • Senate bill 783 and House bill 3093, An Act Improving Medical Decision Making, is an important step towards safe, prompt medical care for patients who lack capacity. If this bill becomes law, physicians could appoint a family member or close friend of the patient as a surrogate decision maker. The bill includes caveats regarding inpatient mental health treatment and “extraordinary” medical decisions.  
  • House bill 3027 seeks to establish an office of adult guardianship and decisional support services, which would facilitate a network of skilled, trained volunteers to serve as surrogate decision-makers for incapacitated patients lacking family members or close friends who can fulfil this role.

Valuing medical practices in divorce proceedings
The MMS testified this week before the Committee on Judiciary on a bill that would affect the valuation of professional practices in divorce proceedings. The MMS supports Senate bill 764, which would ensure that professional corporations, including physician office practices, be valued at fair market value, as defined consistently with federal statutes governing other transactions involving physician practices, in particular when the professional is going to stay with the corporation and continue to provide services.

Being heard on proposed changes to BORIM licensing requirements 
The Board of Registration in Medicine has proposed changes to its licensing and Practice of Medicine regulations. These may affect the delegation of medical services, medical record retention, and more. A hearing is planned for May 18, 2017, at 4:00 p.m., in Wakefield, and the board will accept written comments until May 19, 5:00 p.m. The MMS plans to provide input and encourages members to do so; information.

Reminders: Book now to avoid disappointment

Get trained for the Registration of Provider Organization Program 
Select provider organizations are required to file with both the HPC and CHIA in an effort to improve transparency relating to care and track changes in the health care market. The Massachusetts Registration of Provider Organizations (MA-RPO) Program makes this double-registration a one-step process. This year’s training, provided by the HPC, includes financial and APM filings. The session will be held at MMS Headquarters, Waltham (May 16, 2017; Commonwealth Room, 10:00 a.m.). To register, click on the date. The deadline for filing is July 31, 2017; information.

Build leadership, effectiveness, and conflict management skills
This interactive, experiential two-day program is for residents and physicians in clinical practice, administration, and leadership. Managing Workplace Conflict: Improving Leadership and Personal Effectiveness is designed to help you establish relationships, teams, and work environments in which you and your colleagues can deliver your best care. You will learn to communicate more effectively, apply negotiation and conflict resolution skills with peers and leaders, implement appropriate changes in personal and organizational practices, exhibit appropriate boundaries, and more. The program provides 17 hours of category 1 risk management CME and is co-sponsored by Physician Health Services and the Massachusetts Medical Society. It will be held on June 8-9, 2017 at MMS Headquarters, Waltham: information and registration.

Join the coalition to increase adult immunization 
Physician practices are invited to join the Massachusetts Adult Immunization Coalition (MAIC), a collaborative partnership dedicated to increasing adult immunization through education, networking, and sharing innovative and best practices. MAIC currently includes more than 200 members representing local and state public health organizations, community health centers, health insurance plans, pharmacies, physicians, vaccine manufacturers, long-term care and senior service organizations, consumer advocacy groups, hospitals, home health, and college health services. There is no charge to join. The Coalition meets three or four times a year, and sponsors an annual conference in spring. The Coalition will hold its next meeting on Thursday evening, June 1, 2017, at MMS Headquarters in Waltham. The agenda includes, among other things, updates from the DPH on adult vaccination rates and Tdap maternal effectiveness data, and a discussion of standing orders, EHR optimization, and other strategies to overcome barriers to increasing adult immunization. For more information about the Coalition, please visit, or contact Robyn Alie,

MMS membership benefits  

Graduating medical students: Continue your free MMS membership

  • If you are staying in Massachusetts, talk with your residents-fellows residency program director about free MMS membership. Alternatively, ask your program coordinator to submit a 2017 program roster to activate the MMS benefits for you and your colleagues.

  • Beginning your training out of state? Maintain your membership through December 2018 at no cost. Watch your email inbox for more information.

  • Questions? Email or call (800) 322-2303, ext.7748.

Residents & fellows completing training in June 2017: Access your free MMS membership

  • The MMS offers free membership for your first year in practice. Maintain benefits like your New England Journal of Medicine subscription whether or not you’re staying in MA. For more information, contact or 800-322-2303 ext. 7495.
  • Supplementing training with a fellowship? Your new program coordinator can submit a 2017–18 roster to provide membership for you and your program colleagues. Watch your email inbox for details.
  • For more information, contact or 800-322-2303 ext. 7748.

Educational programs and events

Unless otherwise noted, all events are held at the MMS Headquarters, 860 Winter St., Waltham, MA. View our full calendar of upcoming live CME activities. 

Directors of Medical Education Conference – Advancing Collaboration and Compliance
Thursday, May 18, 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. 

Managing Workplace Conflict: Improving Leadership & Personal Effectiveness
Thursday, June 8, 2017, 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., June 9, 2017, 8:00 a.m-12:45 p.m. 

15th Annual Symposium on Men’s Health – The Many Facets of Men’s Health: Clinical Conversations Impacting Your Patients
Thursday, June15, 2017, 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 

Medical Care of Adults with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities - Live Webinar

Friday, June 16, 2017, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. 

The above activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit

Featured Online CME Activities – Risk Management Credit

The above activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit

See our full listing of risk management online CME activities.

This week in health care

Mass. nurses mull 2018 ballot question on per-patient staffing
Massachusetts nurses believe patient safety and quality of care are declining amid increased patient counts for nurses and health care corporatization, and the nurses union is weighing a 2018 ballot campaign to limit the number of patients assigned to a nurse at once.
State awards $6M to Western Mass. domestic violence service providers
The state has awarded $34 million in contracts each year for the next three years under a competitive bidding process to organizations that provide services to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. Some 10 Western Massachusetts organizations received awards of more than $6.4 million.
MIT Grand Hackathon 2017
More than 400 engineers, clinicians, designers, and developers from around the country will gather this weekend for the fourth annual Massachusetts Institute of Technology Grand Hack with one goal in mind: solving health care's biggest challenges.  
Opioid deaths down in quarter
The numbers in the latest quarterly report from the state Department of Public Health are preliminary and involve just three months, making it difficult to establish a trend. But they do show a decrease: The state tallied about 450 confirmed and suspected deaths between January and March, compared with about 500 in the previous quarter.
Steward, physician group swap fraud charges
One of Steward Health Care System's largest physician groups has filed a fraud and breach of contract suit for as much as $60 million against the for-profit hospital chain, triggering a threatened countersuit and allegations of doctors wrongfully retaining receipts.
Search for mental health care for children is often fruitless
Harvard researchers posing as the parent of a depressed 12-year-old called hundreds of child psychiatrists and pediatricians looking for appointments, and discovered what many actual parents know through bitter experience: Most of the time the calls were fruitless.
Reliant approves Optum acquisition
Reliant Medical Group doctors and trustees have unanimously voted to be acquired by OptumHealth, a Minnesota-based division of national insurer UnitedHealth, according to a statement from a Reliant spokesman.
Med schools to teach how to discuss patients' goals for care—and for life
The four medical schools in Massachusetts have jointly agreed to teach students and residents how to talk with patients about what they want from life, so future doctors will know how far to go in keeping gravely ill patients alive.
Optometrists pitch $20 million in MassHealth savings
The study, by former MassHealth chief Tom Dehner of Health Management Associates, found the bulk of savings would stem from allowing optometrists, not just opthamologists, to treat styes, ocular rosacea and dry eye ($9.4 million) and reducing eye-related emergency room visits ($6.4 million).
Independent pharmacies see some hope
According to Todd Brown, executive director of the Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association, over the past several years the state pharmacy board has reported a 2 to 3 percent annual increase in the number of licenses issued to independent pharmacies.

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