Burnout, time spent on EHRs top challenges for independent practice leaders

What are some of the biggest challenges for independent medical practices?

A new survey by Kareo asked 782 independent practices in the U.S. about industry trends and challenges practice leaders face and their expectations for the future. Some 82% of the practices were primary care, with the remaining independent practices representing 50 different specialties.  

Here are four primary challenges physicians in independent practices identified:

Avoiding physician burnout (74%). The survey found a high correlation between time demands on physicians and burnout. The rate was higher among providers who have been in practice for more than 11 years, as they were 19% more likely to be concerned with avoiding burnout than newer practices.

Administrative tasks taking time away from patents (70%). Reducing the impact of administrative tasks in order to free up provider time was a challenge for virtually every independent practice. Respondents agreed that increasing demands on provider time and the time demands of quality measures and electronic health records are impacting care delivery. Interestingly, practitioners recognize that the problem of increasing healthcare overhead may be solved by effective and efficient technology.

A shift to patients assuming more payment responsibility (63%). Doctors said patients are Increasingly paying directly for services because it’s not covered by their insurance provider due to exclusions or high deductibles. Practices are further challenged by the fact that while 68% of patients failed to fully pay off medical bill balances in 2016, that number is expected to climb to 95% by 2020.

Declining insurance reimbursements (62%). Doctors said they are seeing declining reimbursements from third-party payers. Physicians said reducing claim rejections and insurance denials are extremely important. 

Despite all the challenges, practices are optimistic. More than 60% of respondents expect their practice will grow over the next year, with less than one-third expecting their practice will stay the same and only 11% expecting their practice to shrink.