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Confidence in small practices climbs


Small-practice physicians say their businesses are doing better this year than last year. Find out what’s driving this improved attitude-and what challenges remain.

Nearly half of physicians in practices with six or fewer doctors report that their practice is doing better this year than last year at this time, according to survey results published by an electronic health record (EHR) company.

Practice Fusion’s second annual “State of the Small Practice” report is based on an Internet survey of a national sample of 1,000 practices that are also Practice Fusion customers.

The results show that 45% of survey respondents report that their practices are doing better this year, and 33% report no change. Meanwhile, 14% of respondents reported that their practices are doing worse, down from 41% the previous year.

Physicians also reported that administrative costs, insurance, and reimbursement issues continue to be major burdens. A rapidly changing healthcare climate defined by government reform, technology mandates, and an unfavorable nationwide economy also pose challenges, according to the report.

Other findings:

Sixty percent of small practices report that new technology has made things easier.

Nearly 40% report that the computers in their practice are more than 3 years old-an improvement from 73% the previous year. One-fourth of practices use computers that are less than a year old.

Nearly nine out of 10 physicians report being satisfied or extremely satisfied with their careers despite challenges, a 20% increase from the year before largely related to technology.

Most practices ranked insurance and reimbursement as the top negative pressure (69%), followed by patient adherence issues (64%) and practice administration concerns (48%).

Positive trends are led by advancements in medicine (68%), patient adherence (53%), and improvement in the healthcare workforce (51%).

“I was pleased to see that there was an increase in confidence. That’s reflective of my experience as well,” Robert Rowley, MD, a family physician and Practice Fusion’s chief medical officer tells eConsult. “For us, that means cashflow is a little bit better and some of the revenues are a little better. We’ve certainly become more efficient as a result of using technology.”

Rowley splits his time between the practice he owns and Practice Fusion, a free, Web-based EHR system that has been certified to help physicians achieve the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ meaningful use requirements for incentive payments.

Practice Fusion is one of 11 EHR providers participating in the 2-year Medical Economics EHR Study to help primary care physicians decide what systems will work best in their practices.

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