Health care leaders and experts suggest the following tactics for educating and engaging physicians around the Quality Payment Program, or QPP, Medicare’s new physician payment system:

Start with the basics. “A lot of physicians are still at the 101 course level,” says Melissa Myers, senior associate director of policy, American Hospital Association. “They need an overview of QPP and its components.” Hospitals can download and adapt QPP fact sheets, presentations and other educational information from numerous sources, including:

CMS is also sending staff to hospitals and physician groups to provide QPP education and answer questions. Providers can request an educational session. Small practices with 15 or fewer clinicians are also eligible for technical assistance from CMS.  

Share the action plan for the hospital or network involved. Once physicians understand what QPP involves, they will need to know how the program applies to them and how to comply. For instance, will they be in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System track? If so, what metrics should they report and for what time period? How will the data be reported? These are just some of the questions that hospitals need to be prepared to discuss with physicians.

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Customize content. “The education really needs to be organized based on the segments of physicians you are educating,” says Ken Abrams, M.D., managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. An organization needs to spend time determining how to best segment their physician groups by virtue of employment relationships, specialty and care site.”

Employ different educational media. “Physicians are classic adult learners,” says Gary Wainer, D.O., medical director of Northwestern Medicine Physician Partners. “They will seek information when it’s critically important to them. But when it’s not, they won’t retain the information.” Wainer recommends a broad-based approach, posting information online in different formats while also appointing a physician leader to answer questions. “When physicians have questions, they can go to the website or call a team member to get answers,” he says. The medium will need to change as messaging changes over time, believes Bill Gerard, M.D., CEO, Palmetto Health Quality Collaborative. “It’s important to start off face to face, but as physicians get divided by various segments and payment programs under QPP, you’re going to have to deliver different messages to different groups.” To address this, the collaborative is looking into filming short videos on different topics.

Educate physician practice staff, too. The Palmetto Health Quality Collaborative is inviting physician practice managers to QPP education, in addition to physician leaders. “Practice managers really run the show,” Gerard says. “They do all the back-end work related to the documentation and reimbursement.”

Share performance data. “As hospitals engage clinicians in the process of selecting measures to report under MIPS, it would be helpful to share performance data so that clinicians know how they’re actually performing,” says the AHA’s Akin Demehin, director of policy.

Since MIPS is just getting started, hospitals do not have MIPS performance data. However, many physicians have been participating in QPP precursor programs, including the Physician Quality Reporting System and meaningful use electronic health system incentives. Performance data from these older Medicare programs can inform MIPS discussions.   

Plan ongoing education. Hospitals and health systems need to plan for ongoing QPP education, advises Myers. “MACRA is still evolving. We expect to see some changes to the program as CMS decides next steps. QPP education cannot be just one educational session. It definitely needs to be an iterative learning process.”