MGMA16: Bring the art of medicine back into practice, says Fischer-Wright

Halee Fischer-Wright, M.D.

SAN FRANCISCO--With a recent survey finding that 89 percent of physicians wouldn’t choose a career in medicine if they had it to do over again, it’s time to bring the art of medicine back into practice, says Halee Fischer-Wright, M.D., the president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

“We’re working on that,” Fischer-Wright told FiercePracticeManagement at the MGMA’s annual conference in San Francisco.

“Our entire [healthcare] system is predicated on one human being taking care of another. It’s really simple,” she says.

But there are a lot of factors that make it complicated.

Two other statistics that trouble Fischer-Wright are the findings that for every hour physicians spend in the exam room with their patients they spend two hours on the electronic health record and paperwork, as well as a survey finding that it costs $40,000 per physician per year for quality measure reporting. Those statistics, “poke at the dysfunction with healthcare,” she says.

“There’s a lot of fear and concern about MACRA."

Instead of spending time with their faces stuck in a computer and doing paperwork, physicians want to get back to the work they care about--taking care of patients, she says.

MGMA conference logo

A major focus at this year’s conference is the new Medicare physician payment system that starts in 2017 to implement the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

“There’s a lot of fear and concern about MACRA,” she says, although she adds she's confident physician practices can navigate the new reimbursement system.

The biggest complaint she hears from physicians is that MACRA does not promise real-time performance data that will help them change their clinical practice, she says. For instance, a physician can see a patient in November 2016, but won’t get performance feedback from the government until March 2018 making it tough to use the data to modify behavior to improve practice, she says.

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While there are likely to be some tweaks to MACRA along the way, physicians need to get ready for the new payment system rolled out in a 2,400-page final rule released in mid-October.

“Do I think it’s going to substantially change? No,” she says.