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Survey: Healthcare Organizations Remain Underprepared for MACRA

March 22, 2017
by Heather Landi
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Two-thirds of healthcare providers (64 percent) report that they are “unprepared” or “very unprepared” for managing and executing Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) initiatives, according to a survey from Pittsburgh-based Stoltenberg Consulting Inc.

Stoltenberg Consulting, a healthcare information technology consulting firm, conducted the survey at the 2017 Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in Orlando last month. Survey participants represented practice management, project management, director and c-suite roles. IT professionals (53 percent) led survey participation, while executive/C-suite representation (42 percent) followed closely behind.

The findings from the survey, the fifth annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey, regarding healthcare providers’ MACRA readiness comes as the healthcare industry approaches the end of the first quarter in the first-ever MACRA reporting year. MACRA, which was passed with bipartisan support in Congress, launched its first reporting period in January 2017 in which eligible Medicare clinicians will be reporting to a Quality Payment Program that determines a physician’s reimbursement based on the high quality, efficient care they provide that’s supported by technology.

The survey findings indicate that healthcare providers need experienced support to comply with MACRA and IT demands.

“Many felt MACRA would be delayed due to its size and enormous financial impact on physician reimbursement in the transition to value-based care,” Joncé Smith, vice president of revenue cycle management at Stoltenberg Consulting, said in a statement. “MACRA’s quality payment program (QPP) now streamlines and increases provider accountability for quality outcomes and cost reduction, but success under the program will take far more than just passive submission of claim data.”

A majority (68 percent) of survey respondents said that preparation and compliance with the MACRA Quality Payment Program (QPP) should be a combined effort across clinical, financial and IT departments.

“Success with MACRA requires a joint effort of IT and departmental resources to successfully combine clinical, financial and operational data,” Smith said. “This effort commands not only a deep technical knowledge of how and where to extract and transform the right data, but also a solid understanding of how to integrate it in such a way that the resulting data demonstrates that an organization meets objective criteria for its chosen reporting path.”

Additionally, survey respondents identified top challenges to complying with MACRA QPP initiatives. Thirty one percent of respondents cited “revising data management/reporting mechanisms to meet new reporting requirements” as the top QPP challenge, while “motivating the entire organization to collectively work together to achieve program alignment goals” (29 percent) was also identified as a challenge.

Additionally, the survey findings identified other issues that are top-of-mind with IT and executive/C-suite leaders at healthcare organizations.

Looking at health IT staffing issues, 44 percent of survey respondents cited lack of budget and 43 percent cited lack of qualified, experience job candidates to fill health IT positions as the top reasons why healthcare organizations are not fully staffed in their IT departments.

Health IT staff is in short supply, according to the survey findings. More than half (54 percent) of respondents said finding qualified health IT staff and support is “difficult” and 28 percent found it “very difficult.”

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