For providers, 2017 is a critical transition year to CMS’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under MACRA, a primary driver of delivery system reform. Meaningful Use (MU) requirements are now folded into MIPS and providers must meet Stage 3 MU requirements starting in 2018.

Much of the attention regarding regulation has been focused on electronic health records (EHRs) and information exchange platforms, but the future of information sharing focuses on public health reporting requiring the use of another critical asset: specialty registries.

A distinct role

Specialty registries—available through public health agencies, national specialty societies, patient safety organizations or quality improvement organizations—have a distinct role in healthcare. Rather than collect data at the patient level, specialty registries aggregate detailed data from multiple sources regarding patients’ specific diseases or conditions, like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and breast cancer.

Whereas EHRs are focused on individual patients at the point-of-care and exchanging information to enhance care, specialty registries are focused on tracking, measuring and improving outcomes for specific populations over time. They increase health professionals’ knowledge and understanding about a particular condition, help providers design better treatment plans and assist in building targeted population health programs.

Benefits that elevate performance

The benefits of specialty registries to disease management, population health management, and overall delivery system reform are clear, which is why CMS included them in MU requirements. But in using specialty registries, providers and health systems would do well to go beyond merely checking off the MU box to satisfy a regulatory requirement.

Insights that can be gleaned from registries can be leveraged to improve provider practices, enhance population health management initiatives and provide the strategic competitive advantage in the marketplace. For example, quality data is essential to positioning in value-based care. By leveraging public health reporting through registries, practices can easily benchmark their performance against their peers.

Using specialty registries enables practices to make improvements that will elevate their clinical and financial performance, better define and enhance their value proposition to patients and provide the best quality care for their patients.