Practice managers: Operating costs, EHRs bring daily challenges

July 14, 2011

Rising operating costs and selecting and implementing a new electronic health records (EHR) system are among medical practice professionals? greatest challenges to running a group practice, recent questionnaire results indicate.

Rising operating costs and selecting and implementing a new electronic health records (EHR) system are among medical practice professionals’ greatest challenges to running a group practice, recent questionnaire results indicate.

According to the Medical Group Management Association 2011 "Medical Practice Today: What members have to say" questionnaire, the top five challenges of running a group practice are:

  • preparing for reimbursement models that place a greater share of financial risk on the practice
  • participating in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ EHR meaningful use incentive program
  • dealing with rising operating costs
  • selecting and implementing a new EHR system
  • implementing and/or optimizing an accountable care organization.

"Operational and financial challenges… continue to be difficult territory for those who lead medical practices," said William F. Jessee, MD, of MGMA. "Also, the pressure to adopt technology and the morass our members face in determining the best systems for their practices, and then complying with the various government programs to receive incentives and avoid penalties, are proving to be of particular concern."

MGMA observed that the issues members deemed to be even more challenging this year than last were also associated with new operational elements and information technology adoption. Implementing and/or optimizing a patient-centered medical home was 8.5% more challenging than last year. Implementing standardized, machine-readable patient ID cards was 9.1% more challenging.

"Practice leaders clearly need to balance their attention among very serious financial issues related to their practices, alongside the need to rapidly innovate and adopt technology in an uncertain time," Dr. Jessee added.