PPI reveals independence trends

The first wave of the 2013 Practice Profitability Index: Tracing the Operational & Financial Health of U.S. Physician Practices has hit the shore, bringing with it insight into current administrative burdens, downward-trending profitability and a reinvigorated physician interest in operational alteration.

A total of 5,012 physicians contributed to the latest edition of the PPI — an analytical overview born from the partnership between CareCloud and QuantiaMD — from various locations and specialties. Participant breakdown was expressed as such:

  • Specialties represented were roughly proportionate to the composition of QuantiaMD members. They were led by a diverse group of family practitioners and internists (77 percent), with sizeable numbers of pediatricians (5 percent), psychiatrists (5 percent), cardiologists (4 percent), OB/GYNs (3 percent) and general surgeons (2 percent), also accounting for hundreds of respondents each.
  • High-population states were represented in large enough numbers to provide a window into local experiences and insights. Those included New York, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois and Texas – ranging from 567 and 231 physicians apiece. Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Massachusetts accounted for approximately 200 physicians each.

Organizers of the report were able to glean from the subject pool a number of facets currently contributing to the practice-based physician’s mindset and situation. The main findings were listed as follows:

  • There is an overall downward trend in profitability among U.S. physician practices. In fact, physicians are almost two-thirds more likely to foresee a negative profitability trend, rather than a positive one, in the year ahead. Declining reimbursements lead physician concerns.
  • Reform efforts create the strongest operational headwinds for physicians, with administrative requirements coming at the expense of patient care. For example, nearly half of physicians say they do not have the resources to bring on any of the 30 million new patients entering the system as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the majority of physicians spend more than 20 percent of their time – the equivalent of one day a week – on administrative tasks instead of patient care.
  • Despite these challenges – and contrary to what many of today’s pundits are saying – today’s independent physicians largely want to stay that way. For now, many are not looking to be acquired by larger practices or hospitals.
  • Physicians across the board are targeting operational changes to improve their performance. Top priorities include renovating their billing processes and underlying technologies, with findings confirming a growing “rip-and-replace” trend. Who do they turn to for guidance? Their peers, first and foremost.
  • Old practice management systems are a focal point of uncertainty moving forward. More than 40 percent of physicians say they don’t know whether theirs can accommodate upcoming regulatory requirements and changes.

Regarding current practice ownership concerns, the survey found that a majority of practices intended to remain independent, although acquisition proved to be a common consideration.

All data and information courtesy of the “Practice Profitability Index: Tracing the Operational & Financial Health of U.S. Physician Practices.” Presentation by PhysBizTech.

Practices that reported selling cited profitability problems as critical to their decision to do so. Survey participants listed declining reimbursement (65 percent), rising costs (57 percent), the Affordable Care Act (48 percent), coding/documentation changes (44 percent) and EHR adoption (26 percent) as the issues that impacted practice profitability most adversely.

Find the free portion of the PPI report here upon completion of the personal prompt.