Medical practice managers reveal top struggles

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., June 30, 2011 - For the fourth year, medical practice professionals sounded off to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) about their biggest daily professional challenges, as well as their struggles to adapt their professions and practices to a time of rapid change, legislative pressure and fiscal uncertainty.

According to the MGMA 2011 "Medical Practice Today: What Members Have to Say" research, the top five challenges of running a group practice are:

1. Preparing for reimbursement models that place a greater share of financial risk on the practice
2. Participating in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' EHR Meaningful Use incentive program
3. Dealing with rising operating costs
4. Selecting and implementing a new EHR system
5. Implementing and/or optimizing an accountable care organization

Operational and financial challenges - and the uncertainty associated with those issues so fundamental to the financial health and viability of a practice - continue to be difficult territory for those who lead medical practices," said William F. Jessee, MD, FACMPE, president and CEO of MGMA. "Also, the pressure to adopt technology and the morass our members face in determining the best systems for their practices, and then complying with the various government programs to receive incentives and avoid penalties, are proving to be of particular concern."

MGMA observed that the issues members deemed to be even more challenging this year than last were also associated with new operational elements and information technology (IT) adoption. "Implementing and/or optimizing a patient-centered medical home" was 8.5 percent more challenging than last year. "Implementing standardized, machine-readable patient ID cards" was 9.1 percent more challenging.

"Practice leaders clearly need to balance their attention among very serious financial issues related to their practices, alongside the need to rapidly innovate and adopt technology in an uncertain time," Jessee added. "Our members are at the front lines of evolving health care, and MGMA is working diligently to provide them the resources and advocacy they require to address the issues they struggle with daily."

Challenges by specialty
Within the top five reported challenges, MGMA observed differences among medical specialties. Cardiology practices found the top-ranked challenge, "Preparing for reimbursement models that place a greater share of financial risk on the practice," more challenging than their peers in other specialties. Orthopedic surgery practices found "selecting and implementing a new EHR system" to be more challenging than it was to other specialties.

MGMA invited members Jan. 7-21 via e-mail to participate in a Web-based questionnaire about their practices. Members rated 44 issues and identified which challenges were most applicable to their daily work. For each issue, respondents rated the degree of challenge on a five-point scale: 1 = no challenge, 2 = low challenge, 3 = moderate challenge, 4 = considerable challenge and 5 = extreme challenge. MGMA received responses from 1,190 individuals. The research is featured in the July 2011 MGMA Connexion magazine.

About MGMA
MGMA is the premier membership association for professional administrators and leaders of medical group practices. Since 1926, MGMA has delivered networking, professional education and resources, and political advocacy for medical practice management. Today, MGMA's 21,500 members lead 13,700 organizations nationwide in which some 275,000 physicians provide more than 40 percent of the health care services delivered in the United States.

MGMA's mission is to continually improve the performance of medical group practice professionals and the organizations they represent. MGMA promotes the group practice model as the optimal framework for health care delivery, assisting group practices in providing efficient, safe, patient-focused and affordable care. The American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE) is the standard-setting and certification body of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), and promotes the professional growth of leaders. By developing the Body of Knowledge for Medical Practice Management, ACMPE provides a central framework for MGMA resources.MGMA is headquartered in Englewood, Colo., and maintains a government affairs office in Washington, D.C. Please visit