CMS Launches Contest for MIPS Educational App

Ken Terry

May 03, 2016

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched an app-developer contest to stimulate the creation of mobile apps that can help educate clinicians and support staff about the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

Authorized by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, MIPS will financially reward or penalize Medicare providers for their performance on criteria that include quality, resource use, clinical practice improvement, and meaningful use of certified electronic healthcare technology. The new payment methodology will go into effect in 2019, and performance measurement will start next year.

In a May 2 notice about the MIPS app challenge in the Federal Register, CMS estimated that MIPS could affect up to 1.2 million clinicians. It could also have an impact on "millions of people who support the success of these MIPS clinicians," the notice said.

"Feedback we have received from our customers/end users is that they want more real-time information and access to assistance so they can successfully report to our programs," CMS said. "Therefore, we are launching a MIPS mobile challenge to find innovative ways of improving communication to educate physicians, support staff, health organization leadership, data vendors, and other impacted parties."

Two Phases

The challenge will include two phases, and participants can move on to phase 2 even if they don't win the first round. In phase 1, they will create an "initial mobile platform" that features innovative ways of transmitting educational materials or fostering collaboration among users for educational purposes. They must also do initial usability testing.

In phase 2, the participating developers will develop and integrate features from phase 1 and do more user experience testing. They must also submit their source code and instructions on how to install and operate the app.

Under terms of their agreement, the winning developers must give the federal government royalty-free, nonexclusive, worldwide licenses to their apps.

The top three to five winners in phase 1 will be awarded $10,000 each. The phase 2 final challenge winner will receive $25,000.

In recent years, the government has launched a number of contests to spur the private sector to create innovative health information technology (IT) solutions. In March, for example, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) Karen DeSalvo, MD, announced three new developer challenges to advance interoperability through the emerging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard. These contests, for a consumer-facing app, a vendor-neutral app, and a provider-facing app, included grand prizes of $50,000 and second-place award of $25,000.

ONC launched an app challenge several years ago to improve the functionality of the Blue Button+ technology for downloading patient records. The winners, announced in 2013, included GenieMD, Humetrix, and Care Tracker.

The deadline for phase 1 submissions to the MIPS app challenge is July 15, 2016. Phase 2 will commence July 30, and the deadline for submissions is September 30, 2016. The tentative date for announcing winners is October 15, 2016.

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