Physicians vexed by lack of financial control of their practices

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of surveyed physicians in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics feel that they lack financial control over the business side of their practices. That finding signals a need for stronger tracking and goal-setting mechanisms, according to survey collaborators, medical software and billing services firm ADP AdvancedMD and online community Sermo.

[See also: Practices must surmount daily financial and regulatory challenges]

The study gathered responses from 300 physicians during August 2012. It also sought to uncover what these physician practices use as measures of financial and practice performance, which technologies they have adopted, and asked for a ranking of their specific attitudes and concerns about the business side of their practices.

Among the key findings:

  • Only 26 percent of physicians agree or strongly agree that they have control over their finances.
  • Only 50 percent of physicians say they evaluate their financial performance and compare it with similar practices.
  • More than half of physicians across all specialties see their patient count increasing, likely due to an estimated additional 30 million patients who will be seeking care in 2014 under provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

“These findings validate what we’ve seen in the marketplace over the past few years -- in particular, physicians are finding managing the finances of their practices increasingly challenging,” said Raul Villar, president, ADP AdvancedMD, in a press release announcing the survey results. “For a sector that is experiencing significant growth and regulatory changes, it’s obvious that there is room for improvement. Technology has come a long way in providing physicians with more freedom and flexibility to balance their busy lives, as well as providing tools for improving the patient experience and financial health of their practices. Cloud practice software offering state-of-the-art revenue collection capabilities, accessible from anywhere, can play a significant role in helping to improve finances and saving private practices.”

[See also: Physicians say distractions interfering with delivery of quality care]

Technology use findings from the study indicated that only 1 out of 3 physicians are using cloud practice management (PM) and EHR systems and that only 56 percent say their EHR is integrated with their PM system – a key to more effective claims processing and practice efficiency, according to ADP AdvancedMD.

Despite differences in their patient populations, more than half of physicians from all specialties agreed that they were deeply concerned about the potential impact of Medicare payment reductions; about three-quarters of family medicine and internal medicine doctors cited concern. More than half were also concerned about the impact of ICD-10 on their ability to get fair pay for services provided.

Comments (1)

Sue Ann: Well, shock and surprise -- these are the physicians most likely to be in multispecialty groups who are dominated by specialists and proceduralists, and they don't share financial information because then they would be pressured to "share" the income they are receiving. Plus, those places have LOTS of overhead - mostly because of the specialists - and there are a lot of people who have physician-level salaries and work far less than the physicians do. Don't get me wrong - we need specialists. But the behavior is far different when they are not GUARRANTEED a referral. They are nicer, more communicative, and more accessible. This is why I believe the ACOs will not work out as expected: They may have to meet medical necessity first, but they will play this system just as much as the other system, and eventually, it will be just as costly. The only REAL motivater here is competition. If financially independent single specialty groups had to compete for referrals, the tail would not be wagging the dog.

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