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The hidden costs of regulatory fatigue in physician practices

The scramble to keep up with a rapidly evolving industry is taking its toll on physician practices. Regulatory compliance requires a lot of rigor on multiple fronts, including Meaningful Use, Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and electronic prescription of controlled substances (EPCS).

These requirements and others are causing general fatigue. For example, according to the Top 15 challenges facing physicians in 2015, about eight out of 10 physicians feel they are overextended or working at full capacity, and 70% report that they spend more than one day on paperwork each week.

Unfortunately, there are hidden costs to this exhaustion that many practices overlook.

Burnout can lead to leaving money on the table

Physician practices have become almost desensitized to the worry associated with regulatory requirements. For example, ICD-10 is coming down the path, but it’s not creating the same buzz that Meaningful Use did when it first appeared. The Medical Economics article cites a 2014 MGMA survey that found 79% of practices have not started to prepare for it.

Maybe it’s because clients know that our software is ready for ICD-10. But are the workflows ready? Is the staff prepared for new documentation requirements? These are questions every practice should be asking to avoid serious financial consequences.

Other practices decide that some incentives aren’t worth the work. I just talked to a large physician practice that decided not to attest for Meaningful Use for 2014 because it was too challenging to get patients involved. They’re not alone, but that’s a significant financial decision.

Rigor around value-based care and accountable care initiatives can be financially costly and time intensive, but it pays dividends. It’s the future financial model for health care, and not being ready means practices are leaving money on the table.

Training can help protect a practice from unnecessary fatigue

The industry as a whole is underinvested in training. If you look for the root of what ails physician practices today, it’s that people aren’t using EHRs to their fullest potential in a demanding environment.

Training is not a one-time deal, either. Getting enough training to “go live” on Day 1 is very different from using best practices that help organizations run at peak efficiency. Stopping at the adoption stage without fully understanding the solution’s capabilities causes dissatisfaction and exhaustion.

Continuous training can help equip physician practices for a constantly changing environment. Investing even a small amount of time in training can save time, frustration and fatigue down the road. Learn more about how the Allscripts Education & Optimization team can provide training for clients here.

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