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CMS Announces Formation of Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing the creation of the Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics to unify the agency’s efforts to reduce regulatory and administrative burden and to further the goal of putting patients first. The new office is an outgrowth of the agency’s Patients over Paperwork Initiative, which is the cornerstone of CMS’s ongoing efforts to implement President Trump’s 2017 executive order to “Cut the Red Tape” and eliminate duplicative, unnecessary, and excessively costly requirements and regulations. This announcement permanently embeds a culture of burden reduction across all platforms of CMS agency operations.

CMS’s burden reduction work began three years ago with the launch of its Patients over Paperwork Initiative, which has focused on reducing unnecessary regulatory burden, in order to allow providers to concentrate on their primary mission: patient care. The results are expected to save providers and clinicians $6.6 billion and 42 million unnecessary burden hours through 2021. As part of its efforts to date, CMS has heard from over 2,500 providers, clinicians, administrative staff, health care leaders, beneficiaries, and their support teams through 158 site visits and listening sessions. Through more than 10 requests for information combined with stakeholder interviews, CMS also has over 15,000 comments to assist us in our burden reduction efforts.

These efforts have yielded significant results, including the following:

“The Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics will ensure the agency’s commitment to reduce administrative costs and enact meaningful and lasting change in our nation’s health care system,” says CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Specifically, the work of this new office will be targeted to help reduce unnecessary burden, increase efficiencies, continue administrative simplification, increase the use of health informatics, and improve the beneficiary experience.”

This announcement continues CMS’s burden reduction efforts from both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. When President Trump declared a national coronavirus emergency on March 13, 2020, CMS took action nationwide to aggressively respond to COVID-19. In March, CMS announced unprecedented relief for the clinicians, providers, and facilities participating in Medicare quality reporting programs, including the 1.2 million clinicians in the Quality Payment Program who are on the front lines of America’s fight against COVID-19, by granting them exceptions to reporting requirements and extensions for reporting measures and data.

Under these extreme and uncontrollable circumstances, CMS also implemented additional exceptions for upcoming measure reporting and data submission deadlines for a number of programs, including provider, hospital, and postacute programs, during the COVID-19 emergency. Additionally, during the pandemic CMS has taken actions to ease federal rules and to institute new flexibilities to ensure that states and localities can focus on patient care and can ensure that care is not delayed due to administrative red tape. CMS is committed to leveraging the significant flexibilities introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it continues to lead the rapid transformation to value-based health care.

The new office will strengthen CMS’s efforts across Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Health Insurance Marketplace to decrease the hours and costs clinicians and providers incur for CMS-mandated compliance. It will take a proactive approach to reducing burden, carefully considering the impact of new regulations on health care system operations. The new office will also increase the number of clinicians, providers, and health plans the agency engages, to ensure that CMS has a better understanding of how various regulatory burdens impact health care delivery. Stakeholder feedback is critical to addressing provider and clinician burden, as it helps CMS to remove or modify outdated regulations that impede innovation, ultimately resulting in improvements in health care delivery.

Additionally, the Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics will focus on the important work of health informatics, which uses and applies health data and clinical information to provide better health care to patients. Fostering innovation through interoperability will be an important priority, and the office will leverage technology and automation to create new tools that allow patients to own and carry their personal health data with them seamlessly, privately, and securely throughout the health care system. By providing clinicians with a complete medical history, they can deliver better coordinated, higher quality care. Coupled with implementation and enforcement of adopted national standards, this office will also work with the broader health care community to continue to make key administrative processes increasingly more efficient.

With the formation of the Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics, CMS will continue to draw on the specialized expertise of staff, and frequent stakeholder input, to continue to explore innovative ways to address regulatory reform and burden reduction. All of these efforts will help ensure that providers and clinicians can focus their efforts on what is most important: keeping patients healthy, improving health outcomes, and enhancing patient satisfaction.

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services