Medical practice executives cite financial management issues as most challenging

Englewood, Colo. June 25, 2013—For the sixth year, medical practice executives revealed their biggest daily professional challenges to MGMA and disclosed their struggles to adapt to rapid changes, legislative pressures and fiscal uncertainty. According to 1,067 respondents to the "Medical Practice Today: What members have to say" research, the top five most applicable and intense challenges of running a group practice are:

1. Dealing with rising operating costs
2. Preparing for reimbursement models that place a greater share of financial risk on the practice
3. Managing finances with the uncertainty of Medicare reimbursement rates
4. Collecting from self¬-pay, high-deductible, and/or health savings account patients
5. Understanding the total cost of an episode of care

“Physician practices are doing more and more to innovate and respond to our rapidly changing environment to meet the needs of their patients, but with fewer resources," said Susan L. Turney, MD, MS, FACMPE, FACP, MGMA president and CEO. "They are working diligently to manage rising operating costs and prepare for potential cuts to reimbursement rates, and are also navigating a number of other transformative federal policies that will soon go into effect, such as health insurance exchanges. It’s understandable that financial management issues rank among the most pressing concerns for our members.”

Other challenges cited by medical practice executives include:

Collaborating with payers to implement new payment models

This year, “collaborating with payers to implement new payment models” was cited as being more intense and applicable by respondents than in 2012. Research conducted by the Association in October 2012 indicated that 82 percent of responding physician practices were willing to explore new Medicare payment models, but the instability caused by constant threats of reimbursement cuts under Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) payment formula has hindered their ability to participate.

“Closer working relationships between payers, physicians, hospitals and other providers are critical to the success of emerging payment models," explained Anders Gilberg, senior vice president of government affairs, MGMA. "Physicians need real-time data from payers in order to effectively manage patient populations. Integrated care delivery is the future and it can be facilitated in formal and informal ways. As payers increasingly hold physicians accountable for cost and quality metrics, they must implement transparent collaborative approaches to contracting and data-sharing to assist practices in effectively serving their patients.”

Using systems to manage and evaluate population health

Seventy percent of survey respondents indicated that “using systems to manage and evaluate population health” was very applicable to their jobs.

“A patient-centered organization will continually seek ways to better understand the communities they serve,” said Todd Evenson, director, data solutions, MGMA. “It’s to be expected that practices will need information and resources to manage the health of their populations in the future.”

In February 2013, the Association released DataDive: 2012 Procedural Profile Module, a resource that can be used to understand patient bases, explore potential new service lines, and ensure adequate practice staffing. Practices can develop an organizational profile that can be benchmarked against peers' profiles using national and credible MGMA data.

Implementing a new EHR

Respondents indicated that “implementing a new EHR” was less challenging this year, while “optimizing an existing EHR system” was cited as being more challenging for professionals.

“In the past couple years, practices have struggled to optimize their EHR system,” said Derek Kosiorek, principal consultant, MGMA Health Care Consulting Group. “It’s important to work with your system vendor to really understand the functionalities of the system and learn how to best integrate these new capabilities with your processes. Some practices may even be using their second EHR system and are working to better optimize it than they did their first system.”

Kosiorek will present “Time for an EHR "Optimization Check Up" at the MGMA 2013 Annual Conference in San Diego, Oct. 6-9. His session will include tips on optimizing an EHR to help lead increased efficiency in physician practices.

MGMA conducted “Medical Practice Today: What members have to say” research between Jan. 11 and Feb. 4. The Association invited members via e-mail to participate in a web-based questionnaire in which they rated 52 issues and identified which challenges were most applicable and intense to their daily work. For each issue, respondents rated the degree of challenge on a five-point scale: 1 = no challenge, 2 = low challenge, 3 = moderate challenge, 4 = considerable challenge and 5 = extreme challenge. Intensity was measured by the percentage of respondents who indicated the challenge was considerable or extreme. The research is featured in the July 2013 issue of MGMA Connexion magazine.

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About MGMA
MGMA is the premier association for professional administrators and leaders of medical group practices. In 2011, members of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), and its standard-setting division, the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE), voted to merge to form a new association. Since 1926, the Association has delivered networking, professional education and resources, political advocacy and certification for medical practice professionals. The Association represents 22,500 members who lead 13,200 organizations nationwide in which some 280,000 physicians provide more than 40 percent of the healthcare services delivered in the United States.

MGMA’s mission is to continually improve the performance of medical group practice professionals and the organizations they represent, helping medical practices provide efficient, safe, patient-focused and affordable care. MGMA is headquartered in Englewood, Colo., and maintains a government affairs office in Washington, D.C. Please visit mgma.com.
 

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