Cost of Complying With Regulations? $40K per Physician

Nearly half of physician practices report spending more than $40,000 per full-time physician per year on complying with federal regulations, according to a recent survey by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

That includes costs related to “loss of physician productivity, staff training regarding regulations, IT implementation and upgrade costs, consulting and attorney fees, etc.,” the survey said. Thirteen percent of respondents said they spent $70,000 to $100,000 per full-time doctor, and 14% reported spending $100,000 or more.

Robert Tennant, director of health information technology policy for MGMA, acknowledged in an interview with Medscape Medical News that these numbers only represent estimates by the responding practices. The wide range in spending, he said, reflects the amounts that various practices invested in complying with Medicare programs, such as the electronic health record (EHR) incentive program and the Quality Payment Program (QPP), including the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

Michelle Holmes, a principal with ECG Management Consultants in Atlanta, Georgia, told Medscape Medical News that it would be difficult for practices to track all of the activities involved in compliance, let alone the impact on physician productivity. The median of $40,000 per full-time doctor would be high for a large group with hundreds or thousands of doctors, she said, but it sounds right for a sample of small and medium-sized practices that had fewer full-time physicians to spread the costs across.

Of the 750 group practices that MGMA polled in July 2017, nearly 80% were independent practices. Thirty percent of the groups included 1  to 5 full-time doctors, and 37% had 6 to 20 full-time physicians. The rest were larger groups.

More than 8 in 10 of the respondents said that complying with MIPS was “very” or “extremely” burdensome. Eighty-four percent of the respondents agreed with the…

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