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Practice Profitability Index: Physicians Bearish on the Year Ahead

By Clive Riddle, May 9, 2014

CareCloud, in partnership with QuantiaMD, has just released their second annual Practice Profitability Index report. The ten-page 2014 report, “intended to serve as an annual barometer for the operational wellbeing of U.S. medical groups in the year ahead,” finds that “U.S. physicians are now more than twice as likely to foresee eroding, not increasing, profits in 2014,” as they illustrate with survey results in this portion of an infographic provided in conjunction with the report.

Of course, as the healthcare landscape evolves and trends for integration continues to gradually gather steam, those remaining in private practice may view themselves in an increasingly embattled or even endangered species. Albert Santalo, CareCloud Chairman and CEO  tells us, “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.  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 Practice Profitability Index involves gathering insights via an interactive online questionnaire and related discussion groups. This year, 5,064 physicians participated during March, 2014. Here’s highlights of findings presented in the report: 

  • Physicians with a negative outlook increased from 36% to 39% during the past year
  • Physician optimists declined from 22% to 19%.
  • The detailed breakdown of responses for profitability trending was 5% very positive; 14% somewhat positive; 30% about the same; 29% somewhat negative; 10% very negative; and 12% not sure.
  • Their top financial concerns are: declining reimbursements (60%); rising costs (50%); requirements from the Affordable Care Act (49%); and the transition to ICD-10 (43%).
  • The percentage of doctors spending more than one day a week on paperwork rose sharply between 2013 and 2014, from 58% to 70%.
  • 23% spend more than 40% of their time on administration, up from 15% last year.
  • 40% of physicians indicated patient engagement programs hold the greatest promise for improving their practice performance in 2014.
  • Other responses for improving performance including new alliances with other providers (21%), ACO participation (11%) and mobile technologies (11%)
  • The survey was taken before the minimum one-year delay to the ICD-10 code transition, originally scheduled for October 2014, but at that time 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.
  • Of the 48% of respondents that own their practice, 24% of these physicians are considering selling the practice, up from 21% in 2013. 53% are not looking to sell at all, down from 50% in 20

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