AAFP aims to reduce administrative burden, the ‘most pressing priority’ for family physicians

A stethoscope on a computer keyboard
Some 60% of AAFP members who responded to a 2017 survey asked that administrative simplification be the group’s top priority. (Getty/anyaberkut)

Calling it the "most pressing priority" for its physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians has adopted a host of principles aimed at reducing the administrative burden weighing down doctors. 

The AAFP’s board of directors adopted the academy’s own principles for administrative simplification, which outline steps to address issues faced by family physicians in clinical practice from prior authorizations to medical record documentation, according to an announcement.

Some 60% of its members who responded to a 2017 survey asked that administrative simplification be the group’s top priority, the AAFP said. Doctors say the administrative burden they face drives up practice operating costs, reduces time with patients and causes physician burnout.

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"The regulatory framework with which primary care physicians must comply is daunting and often demoralizing," according to the AAFP’s principles. For instance, doctors may deal with 10 different payers, each with its own rules and forms, which means they must spend countless hours to meet the requirements of health insurance plans.

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The AAFP principles focus on four areas it says need immediate attention:

Prior authorizations.The AAFP called for a number of changes to cut down on the number of prior authorizations.

Quality measure harmonization. The organization calls for the adoption of a single set of quality measures based on evidence-based outcomes.

Certification and documentation. The AAFP wants physicians' orders to be sufficient for patients to receive physical therapy, home healthcare, hospice care and durable medical equipment, including diabetic supplies.

Medical record documentation. Among the steps the group wants to see is the elimination of documentation for certain evaluation and management codes for primary care physicians participating in CMS’ Quality Payment Program developed under MACRA.

This week a number of physician and payer groups said they will collaborate to take on one of those priorities: relieving the burden on doctors of obtaining prior authorizations.

Physician practices are racking up dollars trying to comply with new and existing federal regulations, a Medical Group Management Association survey revealed. Nearly half of the 750 group practices surveyed said they spend more than $40,000 per full-time physician each year, directly or indirectly, to comply with federal regulations.