After four years in CPC and more than four months in CPC+, Bevill is seeing the transformation in his Arkansas practice, and he’s thrilled. The work of the practice’s care coordinators and support staff has given him more time to face patients rather than a computer screen.
“I have a luxury now of if I’m going in to see a diabetic that’s, say, 65 with high blood pressure and maybe even with coronary disease, thanks to the care coordinator, everything is already available for me to see in the EHR before I walk in,” says Bevill. “I’m not having to click 14, 15, 20 screens to look at any lab testing or specialist reports.
“I can focus on the important stuff and spend the whole time being very productive with that patient instead of—and you hear so much griping nowadays about it—being a doctor with his nose in the computer screen the whole time.”
Brown and the other nurses at her practice have seen an unexpected benefit from CPC+’s care management requirements that direct practices to follow up with patients after they’ve been discharged.
“We’ve really enjoyed getting to know our patients a lot better than we ever would have,” Brown says. “I feel like we’ve developed a nice relationship with people like, ‘Hi, it’s me again. How are you feeling today?’ That’s why we became nurses.”
Round 2, coming soon
Ward encourages practices in the four new regions to apply for the second round of CPC+ before the July 13 deadline.
“For a smaller practice, you really don’t have a lot to lose by applying for it,” he says. Practices can always not sign the contract or drop out of the program without penalty.
Practices eyeing CPC+ should be thinking strategically, Munger says. “My advice is to start thinking about the blueprint of what you want your practice to transform into,” he says. “Think about whether you want to embed behavioral health as part of your practice or whether you need to ramp up your care coordination.”
Practices might not get a chance to participate, even if they work in one of the selected regions. Since CPC+ is essentially an experiment, CMS wants to be able to evaluate its effectiveness. So some practices that apply for Round 2 will be randomly placed in a control group. That means they won’t be eligible for payments.
For practices that are selected, Allen-Ehrhart expects the second round of CPC+ to go much smoother. By then, she says, health information technology vendors will have figured out what CMS and practices need and will have built the systems to match.
“There is going to be some growing pains,” says Bevill, “but the payoff is going to be worth every dime.”