Business pressures mount for physicians in 2013

January 22, 2013

The Business of Medicine’s 2nd Annual Summit - slated for February 23 and 24 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - is focused on helping physicians better hone their operations to create new efficiencies to answer real-world challenges.

The business of medicine will take on even greater importance as physicians brace for a wave of new economic challenges this year.

According to Michael S. Barr, MD, MBA, FACP, senior vice president of the division of medical practice, professionalism, and quality of the American College of Physicians (ACP), the business-related issues facing many physicians are daunting.

In fact, no less than eight major initiatives and reforms will affect the way physicians conduct business or how much they get paid, including:

  • Provisions of the Affordable Care Act;

  • new payment models;

  • impact of ICD-10 in 2014;

  • Medicare and Medicaid reform and financing;

  • taxes and impact of the fiscal cliff;

  • value-based modifiers and other value propositions;

  • Patient-Centered Medical Homes, medical neighbors, and accountable care organizations; and

  • healthcare information technology, meaningful use, and implementation of electronic health records (EHRs).

“There is a lot of economic pressure on physicians and their teams for 2013, extending into 2014 and beyond,” Barr adds. Consider that each of these challenges will reshape medical delivery for practices in fundamental ways.

Barr, chairman of the Business of Medicine’s 2nd Annual Summit slated for February 23 and 24 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in conjunction with ACP, Jefferson University School of Population Health, the Institute of Continuing Healthcare Education, and Medical Economics, adds that in some cases, asking an office-based practice struggling financially to jump into all these things “is just a bridge too far for many of them.”

The summit’s program is focused on helping physicians better hone their operations to create new efficiencies to answer many of the real-world challenges surfacing.

Although costs have been steadily increasing for office-based practices, reimbursements have been flat at best, he adds.

“Practices are working really hard, with their noses to the grindstone, and there are all these changes taking place around them. This conference in part aims to bring everyone up to speed in terms of what is happening in the environment, and we also want to offer ideas of ways to create new efficiencies.”

Economically, the new normal is about accomplishing more with less and still improving the outcomes for patients. And although technology’s promise is to improve productivity, in some cases, it is complicating it. Within the realm of instituting EHRs, for example, major challenges still are associated with adopting, importing, and accessing data; interoperability with other systems; and health information security, just to name a few issues. Consider, too, the rapid advancement of science and medical knowledge and access to it.

Technology has changed how physicians run their businesses, communicate with patients and pharmacies, prescribe medicines, bill for services, and even diagnose disease.

“The white coat was always a symbol of being a physician, and it was also a way to carry a library in terms of notes and reference books. Now, I still wear a white coat, no tie, but my pockets are almost empty since I can access everything I need on a smart phone or tablet.”

Using technology as a reference tool is one thing; using it to run your practice is an entirely different proposition, he adds.

The summit, he says, was created to offer doctors a bridge to new ideas to help prepare them for the multitude of challenges emerging.

For more information, go to BizMedicine.org.