Survey finds fewer than 1 in 4 doctors prepared for MACRA

Among doctors in decision-making roles, fewer than 1 in 4 say they are well prepared to meet quality reporting requirements under MACRA.

Most of the 1,000 practicing physicians who have been involved in practice decision-making related to the government’s new Medicare payment system feel they are not prepared to meet requirements in 2017, according to the survey by the American Medical Association and the auditing firm KPMG.

The survey also found that 90% of the doctors described the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), one of two payment tracks under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), as burdensome. Only 8% of the doctors said they are very prepared for long-term financial success under the program.

The poll was conducted before the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a final rule last week that eases some of the reporting requirements under MACRA for smaller practices. Some of those proposed requirement changes are due to the fact that doctors have struggled to prepare for the new MACRA requirements, as confirmed by the study.

RELATED: CMS releases updated proposed rule for MACRA, eases burden on small and rural practices

Physicians are now in the first year of MACRA, a transition year that allows for a “pick your pace” option to help ease them into the new payment system and avoid penalties. Even so, “this survey showed that about a third of respondents are unlikely to meet the basic standard of one patient, one measure, no penalty,” said AMA President David O. Barbe.

The survey results are detailed in a report, which was released at the Eighth Annual Alternative Payment Model and Accountable Care Organization Summit in Virginia.

Of the survey respondents, 56% said they plan to participate in MIPS in 2017, while 18% will participate under the Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) track of MACRA. A majority (51%) of physicians said they are somewhat knowledgeable about MACRA and only 8% say they are “deeply knowledgeable” about the program.

RELATED: Doctor groups upbeat about proposed 2018 MACRA changes

In terms of the burdens imposed by the program, the time required to report performance was the most significant challenge, followed by understanding requirements, how MIPS performance is scored, and the cost required to accurately capture and report performance. Physicians in smaller practices (4 or fewer providers) and those without experience in existing value-based reporting systems were significantly more likely to view requirements as “very” burdensome and feel less well prepared for long-term financial success, according to the survey.

Barbe said the AMA has developed resources to help physicians comply with MACRA, including a free video on minimum reporting requirements to avoid a penalty in 2019 for failure to report this year.