On October 7, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a request for information (RFI) notice seeking public comment on a proposed national healthcare provider directory. CMS states in the RFI that the directory would be a “centralized data hub” for healthcare provider, facility, and entity directory information across the country. Under the proposal, CMS would establish and maintain the national directory and validate the data against primary sources. The national directory would also be application programming interface (API)-enabled.
While patients already use provider directories to locate healthcare providers and learn about the services they offer, these directors are typically maintained by individual payers and may not be the most accurate source of provider information. Moreover, reporting contact and services data to payers places a significant administrative burden on providers. In the RFI, CMS cites a 2019 study conducted by the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH), which found that physician practices collectively spend around $2.7 billion annually on directory maintenance. Viewed differently, that figure equates to about $1,000 per month per practice, or one staff member workday per week. According to CAQH, a single streamlined platform for reporting provider directory information would save practices over $4,700 each year, or approximately $1.1 billion in collective annual savings nationwide. Although it is worth noting that payors would likely still require providers to report contact and services data to them, meaning CMS is only adding an additional administrative burden.
CMS’s proposed nationwide directory purports to streamline existing data across its system and publish easily accessible information using interoperable technology in a centralized location. According to CMS, the proposed directory would not only give patients more accurate provider information, but also improve health data exchange and care coordination between providers. A national directory also has the potential to improve public health reporting, a major challenge for the healthcare industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RFI is open for a 60-day public comment period and all comments must be submitted by December 6, 2022.
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