How are independent medical groups responding to MACRA?

Three insights from the 2016 MACRA Pulse Check Survey

By Julia Connell, Research Analyst

While there’s no doubt that MACRA is on everyone’s mind, we wanted to find out exactly how independent medical groups were preparing for MACRA. This fall, we surveyed 56 independent medical group leaders from our Physician Practice Roundtable membership to gauge how they’re adjusting for the year ahead. Here are the top three insights:

1. While independent medical group leaders are feeling a mix of concern and confidence, most feel ready to report for the full-year in 2017.

Of those surveyed, 34% of independent medical group leaders reported feeling confident and 49% percent reporting feeling concerned about meeting reporting requirements under MIPS in 2017. Despite this concern, nearly 78% of respondents report feeling prepared to meet full-year reporting requirements in 2017.

When we compared this data to hospital employed medical groups, we found that independent medical groups overall felt more confident and better prepared for reporting under MACRA in 2017. In fact, only 20% of employed medical group leaders felt confident about reporting under MACRA and just 50% expect to meet full-year reporting requirements in 2017.

2. MACRA is pushing groups towards risk, but model participation varies.

Most (71%) independent medical group leaders express some level of agreement that MACRA is pushing their group to take on more risk in the next few years. While groups have a wide-variety of risk-models to choose from, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Shared Savings Programs (MSSP) Track 1 were the most common among those surveyed. Model participation also increased slightly from 2016 to 2017.

3. MACRA is promoting various types of consolidation in some markets.

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Experts have been concerned that small practices might bear the brunt of penalties under MACRA due to a lack of resources and reporting infrastructure, so it is perhaps surprising that only 20% of independent medical group leaders are hearing acquisition interest from smaller groups in their market.

But even the medium to large-sized groups that make up the Physician Practice Roundtable are rethinking consolidation to better meet mandates of MACRA. In fact, 80% of independent medical groups agree that MACRA is promoting consolidation in their market, most prominently by causing them consider innovative alignment models (34%), or merge with other groups (20%).

From the independent medical group perspective, leaders are observing consolidation in their markets more so than their hospital employed group counterparts. Only 58% of employed medical group leaders indicated that MACRA was the impetus for consolidation efforts in their market. Further, 42% of employed medical group leaders report they have not observed MACRA affecting consolidation in their markets.

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