Practices say they won’t add more staff for MACRA duties

Female nurse looking stressed
In many physician practices, the workload on staff has increased. (Getty/gpointstudio)

While physician practices are dealing with the regulatory burden of MACRA, most don’t plan to add any staff to handle the additional work.

A survey by Physicians Practice found that 87.2% of the 1,000 practice managers and physicians polled said they will not add staff to help implement the new Medicare payment system under the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The top reason is because they plan to train existing staff for any MACRA-related duties, the publication said.

That falls in line with nearly 45% of the respondents reporting their number one staffing challenge is increased workload and employees performing dual responsibilities.

Of particular worry is the administrative burden MACRA places on small and rural physician practices that don’t have the staff to deal with the additional work. Many doctors are hoping new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will make the Medicare payment system easier for them when he releases a proposed Medicare rule, expected in the coming weeks.

The fact that the majority of practices won’t add staff to cope with MACRA was part of the 2017 Staff Salary Survey, the publication's ninth annual survey that asked respondents about earnings for various staff positions.

The survey also found that physician practices are getting by with less staff, including registered nurses. Only 35.5% of practices have a registered nurse on staff, down from 45.4% the previous year. Also fewer practices used physician assistants, nurse practitioners and care coordinators. Despite that fact, only 21.1% of practices say they have reduced staff over the last year.

RELATED: Johns Hopkins economist: Regulatory burdens on physicians increase costs, hurt care quality

The administrative burden on doctors, including paperwork and time spent on electronic health records, has played a significant role in skyrocketing healthcare costs and leads to lower-quality care. The amount of administrative work piled on doctors has left many feeling burned out and like they don’t get to spend enough time with patients.