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MGMA Releases Industry Benchmarks for Optimizing Medical Practice Operations, Including Findings That Average Wait Times Decreased by Five Minutes in 2016

Scheduling availability, portal usage and billing also examined as part of healthcare industry’s leading practice operations study

Englewood, Colo. – Aug. 30, 2017— Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) released its 2017 MGMA DataDive Practice Operations Survey today which provides insights into practice operations and patient satisfaction, including average office wait times, scheduling availability and use of patient portals.

According to this year’s survey, U.S. practices report that wait times have improved by five minutes from last year, down to an average of 20 minutes total between the waiting area and the exam room. For hospital-owned practices specifically, that number goes down to an average of 17 minutes.

“Medical practices face a variety of challenges today, and among the most addressable are practice operations which tend to separate top performing practices from the rest,” said Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, MMM, FAAP, CMPE, President and Chief Executive Officer at MGMA. “With this survey, we aim to glean insights that will enable practices to improve efficiencies and better serve their patients by making processes as smooth as possible.”

Based on comparative data of more than 1,200 organizations, MGMA’s Practice Operations Survey is the only survey of its kind analyzing practice operations for health systems and practices in the U.S.

Other study highlights include:

  • SCHEDULING: Physician-owned practices are able to see patients sooner than hospital-owned practices. Based on the third next available appointment slot for established patients, physician-owned practices can see patients up to two days sooner (within three days) than hospital-owned practices (five days).
    • Multispecialty practices reported the slowest speed to answer incoming calls (49 seconds), with surgical specialties reporting the quickest time at 13.5 seconds to answer an inbound call.
  • PATIENT PORTALS: Portals allow patients to access test results, view personal health records, fill out forms in advance of appointments, facilitate doctor and patient communication, schedule appointments, pay bills and house important medical information.
    • Thirty percent of patients who visit hospital-owned practices use the portal, whereas physician-owned practices see less usage (10-15 percent).
      • Of those patients at hospital-owned practices, there is 50 percent more utilization than in physician-owned practices.
    • Amongst specialties, primary care practices report the highest percentage use for patient portal use compared to other specialties (35 percent).
    • Of the functions of patient portals, accessing test results was the most popular (29 percent), with bill payments, communicating with providers and medical staff, downloading or transmitting medical records and scheduling appointments coming in closely behind (all at 28 percent).
  • PATIENT SATISFACTION: Nearly three fourths of practices (74 percent) report conducting patient satisfaction surveys after every patient visit, with only three percent of practices stating they never conduct patient surveys.
  • BILLING: Billers at practices report posting an average of 132 claims per day, with less than 5 percent of claims being denied on first submission.

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