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3 Tips for Surviving the CMS Payment Reductions

By: Dan Montzka, MD | April 7th, 2016

3 Tips for Surviving the CMS Payment Reductions Blog Feature

CMS reimbursement cuts to ophthalmology have some industry experts predicting big changes to practice patterns, from fewer residents entering the specialty to fewer surgeons entering the operating room. To survive, specialists are going to need a game plan for increasing


CMS’ unprecedented fee cuts impact some of the most widely used ophthalmologic surgery codes. The American Medical Association’s Relative Value-Scale Update Committee (RUC) recently reviewed a portion of the CPT codes related to ophthalmology to determine the time, intensity and expense associated with each procedure. The committee found that several procedures took less time than previously calculated, and so reduced a number of reimbursements. On top of significant cuts for retina procedures, CMS went beyond the committee’s recommendations and slashed reimbursement for several glaucoma procedures as well, reducing payments by up to 19 percent in 2016 and by as much as 33 percent in 2017. 


As the saying goes, the best defense is a strong offense. If reimbursement cuts are making you rethink your career path, consider implementing a specialty-specific EMR system instead. A modern ophthalmology EMR not only targets the needs of the specialist but can help you get ahead of potential revenue losses by improving workflows and productivity.

Here are three tips for selecting the system that most aligns with today’s practice needs, ensuring you’ll save time and money without sacrificing care quality: 

  1. Ability to chart high patient volumes

Top performing ophthalmology practices often are described as “high speed.” So if you’re like most, you see a large volume of patients and spend a relatively short amount of time with each individual. A specialty-specific EMR allows physicians to document and complete encounters more rapidly, without sacrificing any of the data capture capabilities essential for tracking and reporting quality performance, physicians can safely and efficiently see more patients in a day.

  1. Supports preferred workflows

More practices are using EMR systems but few are reaping the efficiency gains they were promised. Nearly two-thirds of ophthalmologists surveyed reported that productivity was their top complaint about EMRs. Specialties have workflows unique to the clinical focus, and their EMR should accommodate those clinical needs with customizable templates that enable precise workflow support. Being able to access or input the specific information ophthalmologists and staff need without searching is essential for high-volume practices that want to maintain productivity.

  1. Integrates imaging and drawing

Imaging and drawing capabilities integrated with the EMR is key to improving workflows, costs and patient care. Device integration allows doctors to retrieve, review, edit and draw images quickly and effectively, improving workflows and saving time. Integrated and intelligent drawing features also enable better documentation in less time, helping improve patient care and the bottom line. 

By implementing technology that enhances workflows and care delivery, an ophthalmology-specific EMR can become a valuable asset, essential to the practice achieving its quality and financial goals.