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We asked, you answered: Medical groups' top 2017 priorities

March 31, 2017

    Each year the Medical Group Strategy Council determines what to research by polling our members. With industry influences like MACRA, a new administration, and epidemic levels of physician burnout shaping health care, we anxiously awaited the results of our 2017 topic poll. After surveying 150 medical group executives about their priorities, these are our takeaways.

    Physician burnout tops the list for the second straight year

    In 2016, clinician burnout narrowly topped the list of medical group priorities for the first time.

    This year, "Ensuring long-term practice sustainability and minimizing clinician burnout" was ranked number one—by a landslide. More than 60% of medical group executives selected burnout as an area of interest or their number one priority. This result comes amid growing industry awareness that increased administrative burdens on physicians drive burnout.

    Register for our April 18 webconference on combating physician burnout

    Consumerism means more than expanding access

    Historically, when health systems built their consumer agenda, the medical group led the charge on a single pillar: access expansion. In previous years, access expansion consistently scored in the top 10. This year, "Understanding and meeting new consumer expectations" scored second, outranking access.

    Medical groups must still meet consumers' access demands, but this more holistic response indicates recognition by medical group leaders that employed physicians should play a larger role in executing systems' broader consumer strategies.

    There's growing momentum for reducing ambulatory care variation

    After coming in second on the list of medical group executives' priorities in 2016, measuring ambulatory quality fell to ninth in 2017. At the same time, "Minimizing ambulatory care variation" made its debut in the top four. This shift in quality-related priorities indicates progress. As medical groups mature in measuring ambulatory quality, they're also moving beyond process measurement to performance improvement.

    MACRA is a smaller hurdle than anticipated… for now

    Leading up to the final rule, executives throughout health care feared how physicians would be affected by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Our results suggest those fears significantly abated—the survey option "responding to payment changes under MACRA" barely made the top 10. This reduced concern may be short-lived, though, as 64% of providers indicated they still feel unprepared for MACRA in a separate February 2017 industry survey.

    Compensation remains evergreen

    Medical groups rely heavily on physician contracts to align providers to the group's goals. So it comes as no surprise that "redesigning compensation models" continues to score highly, year over year. While it is rarely a medical group executive's number one priority, compensation redesign frequently appears in the top three, as it did for 40% of executives this year.

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