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Financial issues, EHRs top list of challenges for medical practices

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Financial solvency obstacles and implementing an electronic health record are the top challenges facing medical practices and their respective practice managers, according to a survey by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

Financial solvency obstacles and implementing an electronic health record are the top challenges facing medical practices and their respective practice managers, according to a survey by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

Based on MGMA’s 2009 Web-based questionnaire, the leading three obstacles to operating a group practice stayed the same as in 2008:

  • managing operating costs that are climbing faster than revenues
  • sustaining physicians’ compensation while receiving reduced reimbursements
  • adopting a new electronic health record.

However, other challenges cited differed from those shown in the previous year’s survey. The fourth greatest obstacle included collections related to self-pay patients and patients with high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts.

After that came finance management in the midst of changing Medicare reimbursement structures. Next was physician recruitment.

"Running a successful business that provides medical care is an incredibly difficult task in these economically challenging times." William F. Jessee, MD, of MGMA, said in a statement.

As part of the study, participants were polled on how the recession has impacted their practices and what they’ve done in response. The most frequently cited recession effects included a rise in uninsured patients (34.7% of respondents), better billing and collections (33.3%), less revenue (33.1%), slashing operating budgets (33.9%), deferred capital expenditures (36.6%), and hiring freezes (34.5%).

A total of 2,077 participants responded to the questionnaire.

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