Today physicians whether they own their practice or are employed by a hospital or larger health system are facing many challenges in the day-to-day routine.
These common challenges include “How to use the EMR efficiently and getting paid”, overburden with administrative requirements, staffing, burnout, etc. despite their devotion to the practice of medicine and the health of their patients.
Moreover, with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, physicians have emerged as the frontline warriors. They are working tirelessly in the fight against the virus. Because of this, stress and fear have become their constant companion.
Here are some common challenges facing by physicians in everyday practice:
Efficient use of EMR
Physicians have reduced their working hours due to inefficient EMR as clunky EMR interfaces and lack of communication between systems are major challenges faced by physicians.
A study shows that more than 50% of the physician’s time is spent on EMR while patients get only 27% of the time.
Hence physicians can use the following tips to improve EMR productivity:
- You can ask patients to handle some data entry via online portals and in-office kiosks.
- You can delegate some of the activities to your support staff
- You can Work with your EMR vendor to customize settings and eliminate unnecessary steps to streamline data entry.
Consistently getting paid
Each year reimbursement for independent physicians is getting more challenging. Between the ever-changing reporting requirements from CMS and contractual differences among commercial payers, just keeping up can be a full-time job.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), about 15 percent of evaluation and management (E/M) services are improperly paid. Payers deny claims for two reasons: incorrect coding and insufficient documentation. Hence accurate documentation and coding can help you avoid denials and ensure proper reimbursement levels.
Following strategies physicians must opt to get proper reimbursement:
- Provide reasonable and necessary services and coding must be accurate for provided services.
- You should consider key variables for E/M codes such as type of patient (new or established), setting/place of service, and the level of service provided based on history, examination, and complexity of decision making.
- In the end, you must obtain the necessary provider signatures.
If you are a physician having small practice then it’s challenging getting qualified administrative staff as well as nurses’ day by day as it is hard to remain competitive with salaries. Moreover, recently we have observed a trend where independent practices have been swallowed up by hospitals and healthcare systems specifically in rural hospitals which could be a reason for staffing challenges.
Burnout for Physicians
In today’s dynamic health care environment physicians and other clinicians are at high risk for burnout. The main reason for burnout is packed workdays, demanding pace, time pressures, and emotional intensity.
Burnout is referred to as a chronic stress reaction marked by depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment.
Burned-out doctors are more likely to leave practice, which reduces patients’ access to and continuity of care. Moreover, it can also threaten patient safety and care quality when depersonalization leads to poor interactions with patients.
Negotiating with payers
Today physicians need good contracts for survival. Whether it contracts with payers; many physicians do not negotiate the way they should, or sometimes even know what’s negotiable and what’s not.
If you work in a solo or small practice, you may feel like payers will swallow you whole—that you have no standing to negotiate. However, you can negotiate for the rates you deserve provided you take the right steps.
Here are some tips:
- Identify your break-even point by analyzing finances and fee schedules and check If the insurer meets this threshold.
- Show that your practice of medicine is valuable by presenting positive quality-of-care data and by demonstrating a pattern of keeping things low-cost.
Finally, patient wait times would be a challenge that may not seem large but caused due to the physician shortage. A patient could grow intolerable of the wait and leave without receiving proper medical care.
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