Medical Practices Expect To Grow This Year, Boosted By a Tech Assist With Collections And Care Delivery

New survey results suggest that independent medical practices are continuing to whittle away at demands on clinicians’ time using technology, and that more than half expect to see their organization grow during 2019, but that getting paid and engaging patients will remain a challenge.

The survey, which was conducted by practice technology vendor Kareo, collected responses from 782 independent physician healthcare providers based in the U.S.

Among the key results of the survey was that more than 60% of respondents expect to see their practice grow in 2019, compared with 29% who expect things to stay the same and 11% expecting their practices to shrink this year.

While patient referrals were important growth tools for both categories, practices in business 10 years or less placed more emphasis on online marketing strategies such as getting found online (66%), patient reviews (63%) and surveys (60%).

To support revenue cycle processes, 70% of respondents said they were currently using a billing/practice management solution, with another 13% planning to buy such a solution for the first time within the next 12 months. Twenty-four percent said they expected to switch billing/practice management vendors during the same period.

Seventy percent of survey respondents agreed that time challenges faced by providers – including hours spent on quality measures and EHR use – are impacting care delivery. Researchers saw a high correlation between expanded time demands and physician burnout, especially among providers who had been in practices for more than 11 years.

Among practices in business for 10 years or less, 68% of respondents said that improving care delivery was important, and 60% that population health management is important. Among practices in operation 11 years or more, 81% said care delivery was important and 49% that population health management was important.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents agreed that streamlining care delivery workflow to allow spending less time in EHR was important but came in at almost identical levels as compliance, improving diagnostics, prescription management, managing labs and testing, improving treatment adherence and point-of-care documentation.

When asked about care coordination priorities, 75% agreed that receiving transitions of care documentation from other doctors was a priority, 71% tracking the status of referrals and 70% sending transitions of care to other doctors.

Just 64% of respondents said they were currently using an EHR, but 17% said they would be acquiring EHR technology for the first time in 2019. Also of note, 25% of practices expect to switch technology vendors this year.

Along the way, medical groups have made compliance a central part of their operations, with 76% rating HIPAA compliance as extremely or very important to their practice, followed by 67% citing quality measures as extremely or very important.

Meanwhile, patient engagement technology use is lagging, with just 52% of respondents using related software. However, 20% of respondents reported that they planned to acquire such technology over the next 12 months.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.