New ASHA Registry Will Help Audiologists Keep Pace With Payment Changes Medicare cuts reimbursement by up to 9 percent if providers don’t meet quality and outcome standards. All Ears on Audiology
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All Ears on Audiology  |   May 01, 2016
New ASHA Registry Will Help Audiologists Keep Pace With Payment Changes
Author Notes
  • Lisa Satterfield, MS, CCC-A, is associate director of the National Center for Evidence-Based Practice. lsatterfield@asha.org
    Lisa Satterfield, MS, CCC-A, is associate director of the National Center for Evidence-Based Practice. lsatterfield@asha.org×
  • For ASHA news related to audiology, see the articles designated with on page 60.
    For ASHA news related to audiology, see the articles designated with on page 60.×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Practice Management / ASHA News & Member Stories / All Ears on Audiology
All Ears on Audiology   |   May 01, 2016
New ASHA Registry Will Help Audiologists Keep Pace With Payment Changes
The ASHA Leader, May 2016, Vol. 21, 16-17. doi:10.1044/leader.AEA.21052016.16
The ASHA Leader, May 2016, Vol. 21, 16-17. doi:10.1044/leader.AEA.21052016.16
Calling all audiologists: As part of Better Hearing and Speech Month, we’re launching this new column, “All Ears on Audiology,” with tips and tools for your practice.
Congress, Medicare, health insurance payers, health care administrators and patients are increasingly insisting on data-driven, efficient, high-quality health care, and they are holding providers—including audiologists—accountable.
ASHA is developing a registry to collect data from audiologists that will be responsive to congressional mandates without overburdening clinicians—a National Outcomes Measurement System (NOMS) specifically for audiology services.
The audiology registry will meet Medicare requirements and provide data to support quality improvement and demonstrate the value of audiology services to outside stakeholders. It will capture data about patient characteristics for case mix risk adjustment and inform best practice by linking outcomes to processes/procedures. The registry, although not a stand-alone electronic medical record, can be integrated into existing electronic health record systems.
Why now?
ASHA has been following a sea change in health care that emphasizes evidence-based practice and tracking of treatment outcomes, which is reflected in ASHA’s 2015–2025 Strategic Pathway to Excellence. In the pathway documents, the top objective for the next decade is to “Expand data available for quality improvement and demonstration of value.”
But it’s not only about payment—it’s about the viability of the profession. Audiologists are being challenged to demonstrate their value in the broader health care arena, as less-qualified hearing health providers are appealing to state licensure boards to broaden their scopes of practice and as hearing aids become available over-the-counter and online. In addition, policymakers and health insurers are requiring data to demonstrate efficient, evidence-based practice to justify coverage of hearing and balance disorders.

Policymakers and health insurers are requiring data to demonstrate efficient, evidence-based practice to justify coverage of hearing and balance disorders.

But the imminent need is Medicare’s shift in reimbursement methods in the next three years: The law requires Medicare to transition from fee-for-service (payment by procedure) to pay-for-performance (payment based on quality and outcomes).
This shift will apply to physicians in 2019 and all other health care providers in 2021. The data analysis used to adjust the 2021 payments to audiologists will be based on their quality and outcome reporting in 2019.
As many private insurers follow Medicare’s lead, industry observers anticipate that all health care payers will eventually adopt the pay-for-performance methodology for all patients.
Registry design and timeline
The NOMS audiology registry will be developed in stages, prioritized by the impending health care payer requirements. To meet the 2019 Medicare deadline, the first phase—expected to be ready for use in 2017—will focus on adult data. It will include four “modules”: intake, hearing loss, tinnitus and vestibular. Using computer-adaptive testing, the system will guide the audiologist through the relevant data items to minimize clinicians’ time and response burden.
After the successful launch of the adult registry, ASHA will begin to develop modules for pediatric audiology services.
A high priority in the development of all modules is ensuring efficiency and the least amount of duplicative effort for clinicians.
For more information, contact NCEP@asha.org.
Help Shape the Registry

All audiologists—including clinicians, supervisors, administrators and university clinic providers—who provide care to adults can contribute to the development of the audiology registry.

Clinician input is critical to determining the response options for each data element. In the first-round peer review (March–April), audiologists responded to a survey on the data elements the registry should capture. In the second round, available May 6–June 12, clinicians can provide direction on what to include in the data collection.

For more information, visit www.asha.org/peer-review/Audiology-Registry.

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May 2016
Volume 21, Issue 5