Physicians in private practice have their non-clinical work cut out for them in the year ahead. Results of the ACA changes, the launch of the federal and state health insurance market places, demanding paperwork burdens, and coming changes in coding requirements and health IT are all issues facing the physicians in 2014.
Among the key trends that seen to be bearing down on practicing physicians are:
– Rapidly increasing medical consolidation seen across health care systems and insurance companies alike.
– The difficulty physicians experience while trying to negotiate favorable terms with payers because the total number of health insurers has been decreasing for some time as a result of industry consolidation.
– Physicians are continuing to struggle with a growing regulatory paper work burden.
In addition the recent launch of the health insurance exchanges is already driving high levels of confusion among patients, physicians and employers.
Coping with minimal education and support on the new health insurance exchanges from the government, many private practice physicians are unsure of how these new insurance policies will affect their practices.
Physicians are also acutely aware of the looming 2014 adoption of the ICD-10 coding change implementation, based on key issues identified by the Physicians Foundation as key issues expected to impact practicing physicians in 2014.
“From Consolidation to “Monopolization.” The trend toward medical consolidation is increasing rapidly, and is seen across health care systems and insurance companies alike.
Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2014: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, a highly respected and anticipated resource highlighting the challenges that will continue to consume the healthcare executive in the year ahead.
Additional consolidation carries the danger of a move toward “monopolization” – eroding competition in the medical marketplace, driving more physicians out of independent practice and increasing healthcare costs due to higher payments for services performed in hospitals, said the foundation, an organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients.
The foundation acknowledged that while the ACA may bring new insurance options to some areas, the total number of health insurers has been decreasing for some time through consolidation – making it difficult for physicians to negotiate favorable terms. “As this trend continues, many smaller practices may feel pushed toward joining larger health systems not because they are unable to provide high quality / cost-efficient care, but because regional monopolies have control of the market,” the foundation said.
Also, the foundation’s 2012 Biennial Physician Survey found that physicians are currently spending 22 percent of their time on non-clinical paperwork. Current regulatory requirements already “take a substantial amount of time away from patient care, impacting both efficiency and cost-effectiveness of a physician’s practice,” said the foundation’s report.
“While the promise of a better future for healthcare remains, the current path is leading us towards a more monopolistic, bureaucratic and costly healthcare system,” said Lou Goodman, Ph.D., president of The Physicians Foundation and chief executive officer of the Texas Medical Association. “It is critical for policymakers to more regularly seek the counsel of physicians as they begin to implement health reform, since they are the true voice in determining the future of patient care.”
About The Physicians Foundation
The Physicians Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients. It pursues its mission through a variety of activities including grantmaking, research, white papers and policy studies. Since 2005, The Foundation has awarded numerous multi-year grants totaling more than $31 million. In addition, The Foundation focuses on the following core areas: physician leadership, physician practice trends, physician shortage issues, and the impact of healthcare reform on physicians and patients. As the healthcare system in America continues to evolve, The Physicians Foundation is steadfast in its determination to strengthen the physician-patient relationship and assist physicians in sustaining their medical practices in today’s practice environment. For more information, please visit www.PhysiciansFoundation.org and follow The Foundation on Twitter at @PhysiciansFound to stay informed on the latest news.