Healthcare providers say regulatory burdens are rising

Despite the Trump administration’s battle cry to cut regulation and reduce paperwork for healthcare organizations, more medical practices say regulatory burdens are worse. And they’ve named prior authorization as the worst regulatory offender.

In fact, 86% of medical practices said regulatory burdens increased over the last 12 months. The finding was revealed in the Annual Regulatory Burden Report from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

"Medical Group practices continue to struggle with overwhelming regulatory burden," Anders Gilberg, senior vice president of government affairs at MGMA, said in a statement. "Precious time and resources are being diverted from patient care to keep up with the deluge of administrative requirements."

Only 1% of respondents in the survey, which queried executives from more than 400 group practices, said regulatory burdens decreased in the last year.  More medical providers are also finding compliance issues take away from caring for patients.

“We used to devote 80% of time to patient care and 20% to regulatory, compliance, insurance and credentialing issues,” one participant in the report noted. “Now we spend more time on issues not related to patient care.”

An overwhelming majority (96%) of medical practices would be able to shift their resources back to patients if regulatory burdens were reduced, the survey found. And 80% said they would invest in new technology with reduced regulatory burdens.

Top regulatory burden

Most medical practices (83%) in the survey named prior authorization as very or extremely burdensome. Prior authorization requires medical practices to get authorization before they can provide medical services and some prescription drugs to patients. Not only does the practice, which is touted as a cost-control method, delay patient care, but it increases costs and burden, they said.

Prior authorization requirements also meant some medical practices were faced with new and costly staffing changes.

“During the past year we have added 3 new employees to handle just the prior authorization requirements,” one respondent said.

Medical practices also noted the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), which 81% of respondents participate in, has some barriers as a complex program that actually focuses more on reporting requirements than furthering high-quality patient care. More than three-quarters (77%) said MIPS requirements were very or extremely burdensome. And 87% said the extra payments from positive adjustments in MIPS don’t cover the time and resources spent preparing for and reporting under the program.