MIPS: Navigating The Improvement Activities Category

MIPS: Navigating The Improvement Activities Category

Meagan Bouchard
Quality Programs Specialist

We’re back with the latest installment of our blog series, MIPS: A Closer Look, dedicated exclusively to helping your practice navigate the murky waters of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). This week we’re diving into the Improvement Activities (IA) category. If you missed the first blog of our series, MIPS: Navigating The Advancing Care Information Category, take a moment to read it before you start delving into this blog.

The IA category is a completely new concept under the new Quality Payment Program and will account for 15% of your overall MIPS score. The primary goal of this category is to develop patient-centered programs by focusing on care coordination, beneficiary engagement, and patient safety.



As a MIPS Eligible Clinician (EC), you must achieve a total of 40 points during a continuous 90 day, at minimum, reporting period in 2017 to receive full credit. Because the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) has yet to completely define the nature of approved activities for the IA category, ECs can choose to report on 2 high-weighted (worth 20 points each), 4 medium-weighted (worth 10 points each) activities, or any combination of activities to achieve the full 40 points. In order to determine your IA category score, CMS will divide the sum of points earned by the EC by the total points possible.

IA Category Details
See below for a list of the 2017 subcategories that encompass the 92 activities from which ECs may choose. ECs will attest to participation in activities that improve clinical practice.

  • Expanded practice access
  • Population management
  • Care coordination
  • Beneficiary engagement
  • Patient safety and practice assessment
  • Achieving heath equity
  • Emergency response and preparedness
  • Integrated behavioral and mental health

Click here to learn more about the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA)

Special Considerations
In a previous blog post, we revealed that 66% of high Medicare-volume small practices foresee an end to their independence due to MACRA. In order to help many of these small practices, CMS enacted several special considerations, including one for the IA category.

  • Decreased Submission Requirements: Small practices with 15 or fewer ECs, located in rural areas and health professional shortage areas (HSPAs), will only be required to submit half the amount of required activities in order to receive full credit.
    • Practices given special consideration must complete either 1 high-weighted or 2 medium-weighted Improvement Activities to receive full credit.
  • Automatically Earn Full Or Partial Credit: Participants in the Shared Savings Program Track 1 or the Oncology Care Model will automatically receive IA category points based on the requirements of participating in an APM. For all current APMs under the APM scoring standard, this assigned score will be full credit. For all future APMs under the APM scoring standard, the assigned score will be at least half credit.
  • Automatically Earn Full Credit: Participants in certified patient centered medical homes, comparable specialty practices, or those participating in APMs designated as a Medical Home Model will automatically earn full credit for the IA category. For more information about APMs, view our latest webinar recording on QP Central.
  • Automatically Earn Partial Credit: Participants will automatically earn half credit and may report additional activities to increase your score.

Quality Program Services
Confused about the IA category? We’re here to help! TSI Healthcare remains committed to providing its clients with the best tools and the best service in the industry. Schedule an appointment with your Client Solutions Advisor today to learn more about your practice’s options.

Need more help navigating MACRA? Watch our webinar “MACRA101: The New Quality Payment Program,”
to learn more about the new federal policy changes.

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