The Medical Group Management Association is analyzing information technology expenditures as part of a growing initiative to determine what benchmarks will lead to practice improvement for physicians.

MGMA executives say they are changing their approach to assessing well performing practices from primarily a profit-based approach to rating practices to assessing them in four areas—operations, profitability, productivity and value.

The data is included in MGMA’s DataDive Better Performance benchmarking study.

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Early results from MGMA’s analysis finds several key attributes that contribute to better performance in medical practice, including:

  • Monitoring IT expenditures
  • Increasing patient portal usage
  • Overall effectiveness in faster patient scheduling, same-day appointment availability, and minimizing no-shows and cancellations
  • Achieving greater physician productivity
  • Achieving higher revenues while controlling operating expenses

These early findings show counterintuitive results for spending on information technology, says Michelle Mattingly, data solutions manager for MGMA.

For example, better performing practices in physician-owned groups report spending less in information technology per full-time equivalent physician than all reporting practices, while their hospital-owned counterparts report spending more, she says.

Further, physician-owned primary care specialties spend an average of $3,685 less on IT per FTE physician, compared with $1,216 more in hospital-owned best practices.

“A lot may have to do with the differences in ownership,” Mattingly conjectured. “In physician-owned practices, some of them just don’t have expensive EHRs that are needed for networking across a hospital organization.”

Todd Evenson

The best-performing practices “have relied on simplicity with EHRs, and they’ve been able to be very effective,” says Todd Evenson, chief operating officer for MGMA. “When we think about those smaller group practices and how they apply funds, they are going to be pretty strategic.”

In addition, better performing practices report slightly higher patient adoption rates for patient portal usage, as well as more favorable appointment scheduling measures, when compared with all reporting practices.

MGMA also sees better-performing practices also are more likely to enable patients to pay bills through a portal, access test results through a patient portal, and use it to communicate with physicians or staff through a portal.

The organization will continue to refine the data analysis to better understand the impact of various factors on practice success.

“Medical practice leaders grapple with a growing number of factors that can impact performance, so understanding the levers that are in practice’s control is critical,” says Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, president and CEO of MGMA. “The Better Performers data set provides an invaluable benchmark for practices seeking their own insights about where their opportunities for stronger performance reside.”

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