The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regularly schedules technical expert panels (TEPs) to advise the agency on quality measures. In the words of CMS, a TEP is “a group of stakeholders and experts who provide technical input…on the development, selection, and maintenance of measures for which CMS contractors are responsible.”

CMS is contracting with the University of Michigan Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center (UM-KECC) to host a TEP on the Dialysis Facility Compare star rating system. While the complete roster of participants is not public yet, we are pleased to announce that DPC Interim President Jack Reynolds was selected to serve as a patient representative. Reynolds will bring more than 40 years of personal experience on dialysis to help identify ways in which the star ratings can be made more “meaningful and useful” for patients. He has also spearheaded outreach efforts to DPC’s membership and will work to ensure your feedback is incorporated into this effort.

CMS is also contracting with UM-KECC to host a TEP on kidney transplants. Specifically, the TEP will create ways to measure the success of dialysis facilities in referring patients to transplant facilities. We are proud to announce that another DPC Board Member, Nancy Scott – who is also President of the DPC Education Center – will be one of two dialysis patients on that TEP.

The third TEP will focus on vascular access, the surgically created vein used to remove blood from dialysis patients and return it to them. Right now, CMS uses two measures for vascular access that are endorsed by the National Quality Forum: minimizing use of catheters as chronic dialysis access and maximizing placement of arterial venous fistula. In other words, fistulas are preferable to catheters for dialysis access, and CMS seeks to measure the extent to which each are used so it can better evaluate dialysis facilities. This TEP will consider changes to CMS’ vascular access measures, and we are also pleased to announce that one of the two patients who will serve on the TEP is DPC Board Member Nance Lehman.