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Crucial Lessons from Falling-Behind Medical Practices

Crucial Lessons from Falling-Behind Medical Practices

The good news is that American medical practices are generally doing well. Along with Physicians Practice and other UBM Medica brands, CareCloud surveyed over 2,000 medical practice leaders earlier this year to compile the 2017 Practice Performance Index. This research found that 61 percent of practices are holding steady, and nearly 1-in-4 practices can be deemed a "high performer" — showing growth across practice collections, number of practice locations, number of providers, total patient volume, and provider satisfaction.

The bad news is that 15 percent of medical practices are falling behind based on declining performance in those same categories. What can these falling-behind practices teach us about the future of independent medical groups? What warning signs do their responses offer?

First, it is significant to note that falling-behind practices weren't likely to be in a specific specialty, region, or size of practice. There are other factors at work here. Let's take a closer look at the data setting falling-behind groups apart from the rest of the sector:

Not keeping up with regulatory changes: Regulatory pressures on medical groups have been building for the last decade, and it looks like our falling-behind segment is throwing in the towel. Falling-behind practices are twice as likely to not have a plan in place for the shift to value-based care compared to high-performers, and only about a third think they will earn an incentive under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) Quality Payment Program this year.

Is this your practice? It's not too late to catch up to avoid 2017 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) penalties, as part of MACRA. Talk to your EHR vendor about how to prepare for the latest requirements and look to your specialty association for more guidance. The AMA and nearly every specialty group has free MACRA resources available online. Without action, a primary-care provider could see their reimbursements from Medicare be reduced by $5,000 to $15,000, an orthopedic surgeon could see a reduction of $15,000 to $25,000, and an ophthalmologist could see a reduction of $20,000 to $30,000, based on average net collections per provider as reported by The AMGA 2016 Medical Group Compensation and Productivity Survey and assuming 40–60 percent Medicare Part B patient share.

Skimping on new tech investments: The data also showed a wide gap between high-performers and falling-behind practices on health technology adoption. Falling-behind practices are skeptical about technology's ability to improve care — 18 percent of these practices couldn't name a single way that technology was helping and responded with statements along the lines of "innovations have destroyed medicine as it was" and "being forced [to use technology] by government against our wishes."

Is this your practice? Not all technology is created equal. If your practice hates its technology vendors, it's time to start the search for new partners. Replacing technology is rarely easy, but our research shows that it matters. High performers are twice as likely to be using technology such as telemedicine, advanced analytics for population health management, and check-in kiosks that help them deliver improved patient experience. And going back to the first point about the transition to value-based care, it's no coincidence that two-thirds of falling-behind practices report they're not getting enough support from their current technology vendors on regulatory changes. 

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