Practices Remain Optimistic Despite Administrative Demands
IRVINE, Calif., May 21, 2019 – Today Kareo released the results of an extensive 2019 study of U.S.-based independent medical practices. Nearly 800 practices participated in the survey that explored opportunities, challenges and priorities in the areas of care delivery, insurance reimbursements, patient collections, patient engagement, regulatory compliance, population health management, and practice viability and growth.
Among numerous insights uncovered by the survey were the following:
- About 60% of independent practices expect to grow while almost a third expect to remain the same and only 11% expect to shrink.
- The primary challenges reported include 62% of respondents reporting declining insurance reimbursements, 63% reporting a shift to patients assuming more payment responsibility, and 74% agreeing that avoiding physician burnout is a challenge.
- Three quarters agreed that increasing demands on their time are impacting care delivery.
The study showed that even with these challenges, independent practices remain optimistic about their prospects and continuing to provide quality care to their patients.
Effectively leveraging technology can be challenging for practices, but most survey respondents reported that it is essential in helping them get paid quickly and streamline administrative tasks to free up more time with patients. Just under 70% of respondents agree that integrated technology solutions are needed to improve the efficiency and profitability of their practices.
Current data shows that U.S. physician-owned practices on average receive 990.8 million patient visits a year, equating to about 3.1 visits per person. In contrast, hospital outpatient visits number 125.7 million visits per year, or less than half a visit per person annually1. In addition to a higher volume of patients, independent practices also have lower per-beneficiary costs, a lower 30-day readmission rate2 and they reduce avoidable hospitalizations by 33%3 as compared to hospitals. Physicians of independent practices also experience far higher rates of satisfaction versus those employed by hospitals4. This may explain why the sale of independent practices to hospital entities has slowed to a virtual stop, as the survey found that while 13% of respondents are considering joining a hospital entity, 8% are simultaneously disassociating from a hospital group, resulting in a very low net gain of only 5%.
“The independent medical practice is the cornerstone of the United States healthcare system, providing a higher volume of care at a lower cost and resulting in better outcomes for patients, as compared to hospitals or larger medical groups,” said Dan Rodrigues, chief executive officer of Kareo. “In spite of their importance to the healthcare system, independent practices face significant challenges due to rapidly evolving regulations, payment models and patient expectations. The resources needed to manage these administrative burdens jeopardizes a practice’s ability to deliver quality care and maintain a viable business. We hope that this report will help to shine a light on what steps might be taken to make it easier for independent medical practices to thrive.”
The study also explored differences among newer practices as compared to practices that have been in operation for 11 years or more. All independent practices rated regulatory compliance high in importance to their future, but they are lukewarm in their evaluation of their ability to record and report compliance matters. Newer practices were 61% more likely to be extremely satisfied with their ability to track regulatory compliance, perhaps reflecting the fact that they are more effectively leveraging technology. Researchers found that comparing physicians by time in business (11 years or more vs. 10 years or less) provided an interesting context and view into the future of independent practices.
The full report on Kareo’s 2019 industry survey on the State of the Independent Practice can be downloaded HERE.
Kareo is the only cloud-based complete medical technology platform purpose-built to meet the unique needs of independent practices in more than 45 specialties. Today Kareo helps over 75,000 providers in all 50 states run more efficient and profitable practices, while delivering outstanding patient care. The Kareo technology platform is the first to help independent practices find more patients, manage their care with a fully certified and easy-to-use EHR, and get paid quickly all in one complete and integrated package. Kareo has received extensive industry recognition, including the Deloitte Technology Fast 500, Inc. 5000, and Black Book's #1 Integrated EHR, Practice Management and Medical Billing vendor, as well as ranking at the top of the Leader Quadrant in the FrontRunners Software Analysis of EHR. Kareo's growth further demonstrates the expansion and vitality of the independent practice market in the U.S. With offices across the country, Kareo’s mission is to help independent practices succeed in an ever-changing healthcare market. More information can be found at www.kareo.com.
1https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/physician-visits.html 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23780467?dopt=Abstract 3https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0434 4https://www.physicianspractice.com/practice-models/private-practice-and-professional-satisfaction