SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Peter Silva, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

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National Survey of 5,000 Physicians Finds Declining Practice Profitability in the Year Ahead; Administrative Burdens Sharply Increasing

The past year has been a turbulent one for U.S. physicians, according to the 2014 Practice Profitability Index (PPI). The PPI was conceived in 2013 as part of a partnership between leading cloud-based health technology provider, CareCloud, and Quantia, Inc., a leader in physician engagement and alignment. The research is intended to serve as an annual barometer for the operational wellbeing of U.S. medical groups in the year ahead. 5,064 physicians contributed their insights to the second annual PPI during March of 2014. To download the entire 2014 PPI, visit: http://www.carecloud.com/practice-profitability-index-2014/

Physicians Have a Darkening Outlook on Their Practices’ Profitability

The key finding of the PPI survey was that U.S. physicians are now more than twice as likely to foresee eroding, not increasing, profits in 2014. Those with a negative outlook increased from 36% to 39% during the past year, while optimists declined from 22% to 19%. The issues weighing on finances are still led by declining reimbursements (60%); rising costs (50%); requirements from the Affordable Care Act (49%); and the transition to ICD-10 (43%).

Operational Challenges Impact Patient Care

“The 2014 PPI results show that physicians are experiencing increasing strain on their practice operations as a result of healthcare reform and government mandates. This strain, in turn, affects patients – including the millions of new ones entering the system as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” said Albert Santalo, Chairman and CEO of CareCloud. “Nearly half of physicians say they cannot take on these patients, foreshadowing an access to care issue. Meanwhile, despite the hype about emerging reimbursement models, physicians are most likely to seek improvements through programs that help them engage with their sickest and most vulnerable patients.”

The complete 2014 PPI survey results, which also explore physicians’ opinions on technology adoption; time spent on administration rather than patient care; impact of healthcare reform; intent to stay independent or sell their practice; and strategies for improving operational performance, can be accessed at www.carecloud.com/PPI

Additional key findings from the 2014 PPI included:

Regulation Buries Physicians in Increasing Administrative Work, Affecting Care

Successful patient engagement requires that physicians have adequate time and space to focus on care. But the percentage of doctors spending more than one day a week on paperwork rose sharply between 2013 and 2014, from 58% to 70%. Nearly one-quarter (23%) spend more than 40% of their time on administration, up from 15% last year.

Physicians’ ability to make adequate time for patients will become increasingly critical. The PPI found 40% of physicians indicated patient engagement programs, such as disease management and population health efforts aimed at high-risk patients, hold the greatest promise for their practice performance in 2014.

Interestingly, just 11% of physicians cited participation in fee-for-value or Accountable Care Organization contracts – which reward them for health outcomes – as contributing to their operational performance in 2014.

ICD-10 Delay Will Defer Revenue Disruptions, But Preparation Costs Remain

At the end of March 2014, the government approved a minimum one-year delay to the ICD-10 code transition, which was originally scheduled for October 1, 2014. The move provides some runway to the majority of physicians who were unprepared. Before the delay, nearly half of physicians (44%) did not know whether they would be ready. Another 25% were certain they would not be prepared and faced high transition and upgrade costs.

“The move by the government to push back the transition to ICD-10 has caused significant frustration among medical groups that had already begun preparations to meet the October deadline,” continues Santalo. “But while physicians will now avoid ICD-10 related disruptions to billing and collections in 2014, their preparation costs remain. They’re increasingly buckling down to focus on those processes and technologies that can support them for the long term.”

About The Practice Profitability Index (PPI)

Now in its second year, the PPI was created in to provide a voice to physician practices across the US regarding issues that impact their financial and operational health. It reflects the belief that better health outcomes for Americans are more likely to be achieved when practices themselves are thriving and efficient.

  • The PPI was conceived as part of a partnership between leading cloud-based health technology provider, CareCloud, and Quantia, Inc.,a leader in physician engagement and alignment serving more than 200,000 physicians through its online physician community
  • It involved gathering insights via an interactive online questionnaire and related discussion groups. The result is intended to serve as an annual barometer for the operational wellbeing of US medical groups in the year ahead.
  • 5,064 physicians contributed their insights to the PPI during March of 2014 – making it one of the largest efforts of its kind in the industry.

About CareCloud

CareCloud is the leading provider of cloud-based practice management, electronic health record (EHR), and medical billing software and services for medical groups. The company’s products are connecting providers to one another – and to their patients – through a fully integrated digital healthcare ecosystem that can be accessed on any browser or device.

CareCloud is helping thousands of physicians to increase collections, streamline operations and improve patient care in over 48 states, and currently manages over $3 billion in annualized accounts receivables on behalf of its revenue cycle management clients. To learn more about CareCloud, please visit www.carecloud.com.

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