The vast majority of physician practices are finding it difficult to comply with the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and are facing several other critical health information technology challenges that are making it difficult to provide timely, quality patient care.

That’s the main finding of a new survey by the Medical Group Management Association, which found that 82 percent of practices see MIPS as very or extremely burdensome, 74 percent view the lack of national electronic attachment standards as similarly detrimental, while 68 percent likewise perceive the lack of EHR interoperability as debilitating.

Also See: 8 trends affecting how physician practices will use IT in 2017

The MGMA survey, conducted last month, was based on responses from 750 group practices. The largest category of respondents included independent medical practices with 6 to 20 physicians.

While the vast majority of those surveyed are participating in MIPS in 2017 and 72 percent plan to exceed the minimum reporting requirements, 80 percent indicated that they are very or extremely concerned about the clinical relevance of MIPS to patient care, and 73 percent of respondents view MIPS as a government program that does not support their practice’s clinical quality priorities.

“The MIPS reporting program has been identified as extremely challenging, not least of all because of HIT requirements included in the advancing care information (ACI) component of the program,” says Robert Tennant, director of health IT policy at MGMA.

Robert Tennant
Robert Tennant

The objectives in the ACI performance category of MIPS emphasize measures that support clinical effectiveness, information security and patient safety, patient engagement, as well as health information exchange. The new ACI performance category score under MIPS defines a meaningful electronic health record user as a MIPS-eligible clinician who possesses certified EHR technology, uses the functionality of CEHRT, and reports on applicable objectives and measures.

However, the survey reveals that more than 70 percent of respondents find the MIPS scoring system to be very or extremely complex, while 69 percent are very or extremely concerned the unclear program guidance will impact their ability to successfully participate in MIPS.

Another HIT challenge confronting physician practices is the lack of a nationally adopted standard for electronic attachments which Tennant says is “hindering the ability of the healthcare industry to share clinical data in support of claims, prior authorization, and other administrative transactions.” He adds that this shortfall “results in inefficient and costly manual processes that can delay the care that patients need.”

When it comes to the lack of EHR interoperability, Tennant contends that “the promise of seamless data sharing between clinical sites of service has yet to be realized, despite the significant financial investment made by physician practices and the federal government.”

He points to the fact that 68 percent of survey respondents rate the lack of EHR interoperability as very or extremely burdensome, while more than half are very or extremely concerned with federally mandated EHR certification requirements.

In addition, 84 percent of the survey’s respondents agree or strongly agree that a reduction in Medicare’s regulatory complexity would allow their practice to reallocate resources toward patient care. Further, almost half of those surveyed estimate they spent more than $40,000 per FTE physician annually—directly or indirectly—to comply with new and existing federal regulations.

“The magnitude of regulatory demands on physicians is forcing medical group practices to needlessly focus precious time and resources on administrative tasks instead of patient care,” said Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, MGMA’s president and CEO.

“MGMA calls for national effort to relieve physician practices from excessive government regulation and looks forward to working with both the Administration and Congress to find meaningful solutions,” she adds.

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