QuantiaMD, an online medical education site recently did a survey on medical practice economics, as reported from HIT Consult (Fred Pennic).
Many medical practices operate on the edge of insolvency on a month to month basis. Predicting monthly income is a challenge dependent on timeliness of reimbursements, practice volume, cyclic demands of overhead and accounts payable in addition to the increasing demand of health information technology capital investment as well as maintenance costs.
Although purchase of EMR has been subsidized by the federal and state governments, it comes with a price of increase reporting requirements (meaningful use) as well as the conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding.
The initial funding by HHS for EMR purchases does not include the considerable hardware/software maintenance. This cost is considerable and often amounts to as much as the original capital investment.
Although the Affordable Care Act is intended to improve outcomes, and increase accessibility to care for patients sadly lacking is cost containment for operating medical practices and hospital operations.
“The Physicians’ journey for profitability can be measured with the PPI (Physicians Profitability Index) The study was done in April 2013 with the survey of 5,012 physicians.
The opinions reveal a dichotomy of approval/dissatisfaction with the status quo.
The overriding concern is indicated by the fact that only 9% believe their staff and technology are adequate to “getting paid”.
36% felt that profitability was trending down while 22% of those surveyed saw profitability as trending up.
When asked what were the concerns about profitability there was a large regional difference.
Declining reimbursements: 65%, Rising costs 57% Affordable Care Act 48% Coding and billing changes 44%
Accessibility for patients was a large regional difference, with California Physicians (48% ) expressing doubts about absorbing the increased patient load from the ACA.
Maintaining independence was highest in California, Massachusetts, and Texas.
A surprising finding was that over 60% of independent physicians were not interested in selling their medical practice.
How are physicians looking to increase profitability? Streamlining billing process 50% Improving technology 31% Optimizing staff 31%”
48% seek guidance from peers for improving their practice profitability.