Top 3 Problems Facing Specialty Practices in 2021

Physicians, and specialty healthcare practices, are more than twice as likely to experience mental health problems than the average person. With such an alarmingly high number of physicians experiencing burnout and mental health problem, we decided to write a detailed guide on the top 3 problems physicians were facing and how they can resolve them.

In 2020, Medical Economics conducted a study to understand the problems physicians faced while running their practice.  In this study, they asked physicians about their problems and came up with 3 of the most troublesome issues facing U.S. physicians.

Here’s what physicians had to say:

Problem #1 Administrative Burdens & Paperwork

Physicians and healthcare professionals at specialty practices list ‘administrative burdens’ and ‘paperwork’ as the most hectic tasks running their practice throughout multiple studies and across multiple specialties.

Physicians regularly rank the time and energy they must dedicate to filling out forms and other administrative activities at or at the top of their list of concerns in numerous polls and studies across specialties. “This isn’t why I got into medicine” is a common refrain heard throughout the field.

Electronic health records (EHR), which are currently used by more than 90% of office-based clinicians, exacerbate the situation. EHRs, which were once considered a tool to expedite data documentation exchange, has turned into a huge time suck. Physicians in outpatient settings spend roughly 27% of their day on direct clinical face time with patients, but 49% on EHRs and desk work, according to research published in Annals of Internal Medicine in December 2016. Many people additionally worked on EHR-related duties for up to two hours every evening.

Another cause of administrative burdens for physicians and their staff is the rising variety of treatments and drugs that require prior permission from payers. According to an AMA study from 2020, 86 percent of respondents rated the administrative burden of previous authorizations as “high or extremely high.”

Prior authorizations required an average of more than 16 hours per week of practice time, according to respondents to the Medical Economics® Physician Report, with 11.6 hours for staff members and 4.6 hours for themselves.

So should we not use EHRs?

Not exactly. EHR and Practice Management software help simplify a lot of the work physicians need to do. Doing all that manually is nearly impossible. Instead, here’s what you can do.

First, find EMR/PM software for your practice that could be a good fit. Companies like athenahealth, AdvancedMD, eCW are all good options. Second, once you’ve compiled a top EHR/PM list, start listing down each of their value compared to their pricing. Whichever provides the highest value is the right choice for your practice.

Problem #2 Managing Payments & Influx of Patients

Knowing the subtleties of medical coding to ensure payment is maximized and spotting trends that keep patients coming back are required to keep a practice operating.

According to the 2020 Medical Economics® Physician Report, getting paid is consistently rated as a top concern affecting physicians.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) has made substantial modifications to evaluation and management (E/M) coding and paperwork to make the process easier for physicians who primarily provide office and outpatient services.

To ensure that physicians get compensated in 2021, here are 3 things you need to stay on top of:

Understand E/M Changes in 2021

E/M codes are now a lot easier, as compared to earlier. As a physician, you won’t need to choose an E/M code based on total contact duration or medical decision-making.

The intricate points system formed from the number of treatment alternatives, the complexity of data, and morbidity risks is no longer used in medical decision-making (MDM). The new MDM table covers simple criteria and compensates them for difficult instances, independent of the amount of time spent, as long as documentation proves medically essential services.

Make the Most of Telemedicine

Many primary care locations across the country were forced to minimize patient interactions due to the COVID-19 epidemic, compelling physicians to immediately adopt telemedicine as the only method to treat patients and maintain income.

It’s a huge understatement to say that telemedicine was a lifeline for practitioners throughout the pandemic. More than 93% of physicians utilized telehealth to visit patients in 2020, according to the Medical Economics® 2020 Technology Survey, with 77% of them doing so for the first time.

Welcome Data With Open Arms

According to experts, fee for service (FFS) will not disappear in 2021, but more contracts will focus on value-based care, and data is the lifeblood of every value-based care contract. Payers want statistics to assess the most successful physicians, and the greatest performers get rewarded the most.

To participate in the most profitable kinds of value-based care, physicians must have a large amount of data on their outcomes and demonstrate progress in their ability to keep patients out of the hospital. To completely grasp all of the data points inside a practice, an investment in software and equipment may be required. Doctors will be at a disadvantage if they do not engage in and excel at value-based care.

You can also make the most of top medical billing software for your practice.

Problem #3 Physician burnout

The persistent issue of physician burnout has been exacerbated by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic’s equipment shortages and shutdowns. Despite improved awareness within the healthcare system, the same issue exists.

According to the 2020 Medical Economics® Physician Burnout Survey, burnout is widespread among physicians, with 91 percent of doctors reporting feeling burned out from practicing medicine at some time in their careers. A further 71% of physicians said they were burnt out at the time of the poll.

When asked what caused their burnout, 31% of physicians blamed excessive paperwork and government/payer rules, 15% identified a lack of work-life balance, and 12% mentioned the COVID-19 epidemic.

Final Words

Physicians face a lot of problems in running their practice, especially since the start of COVID-19. In this blog, we’ve talked about three of the biggest problems physicians face and how you can minimize the damage. This includes:

  • Administrative Burdens
  • Managing Payments & Influx of Patients
  • Physician Burnout

See Also: How to relieve stress as a doctor – have great sex!

 

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Amy Jackson

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