The New Year’s celebrations may be dying down this week as the healthcare industry gets back to work, but the American Medical Association (AMA) wants providers to keep a watchful eye on ten major challenges that they will face during the year ahead. From ICD-10 to meaningful use to improving population health management and chronic disease care, the AMA list highlights some common complaints.
At the top of the list is a familiar refrain: the ongoing burden of regulatory initiatives such as meaningful use that have frustrated physicians for years. The AMA has long advocated for changes to the program, and plans to “intensify” its efforts to push CMS towards greater flexibility for the program, especially after more than 50% of providers were notified that they will be receiving Medicare payment adjustments in 2015.
The overly-strict requirements of the EHR Incentive Programs “are hindering participation in the program, forcing physicians to purchase expensive electronic health records with poor usability that disrupts workflow, creates significant frustrations and interferes with patient care, and imposes an administrative burden,” AMA President Elect Steven J. Stack, MD said in a statement.
Coupled with meaningful use is the AMA’s other nemesis – ICD-10. While the organization has tried everything from a Twitter rally to Congressional letters to industry appeals in order to continue delaying the code set indefinitely, the new list of challenges takes a bit of a different tack. Instead of reiterating the AMA’s opposition to the codes, the list simply says that the AMA “has advocated for end-to-end testing, which will take place between January and March and should provide insight on potential disruptions from ICD-10 implementation, currently scheduled for Oct. 1.”
“Given the potential that policymakers may not approve further delays, ICD-10 resources can help physician practices ensure they are prepared for implementation of the new code set,” the section continues, which is some of the mildest language the AMA has used about the ICD-10 transition for some time.
Is there a little hint of resignation to defeat now that Congress itself has backed the 2015 implementation date, or will the AMA continue its lengthy fight until the very end? The degree to which the AMA pushes resistance instead of readiness over the next few months may impact how many providers are prepared for the deadline and how many continue to pin their hopes on a postponement.
Other items on the list that will impact physicians in 2015 include the rampant abuse of prescription medications, the spread of diabetes and heart disease, and the need to adequately modernize medical education and the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics.
The list also highlights the need to continue medical research and the sharing of clinical knowledge, to which end the AMA is launching JAMA Oncology, a new journal in its network of publications. Physician satisfaction and the financial sustainability of medical practices is also on the AMA’s mind as it beta tests professional tools to help physicians chart a profitable course for the future.
To round out the top ten issues for the healthcare industry in the coming year, the AMA includes the need for reform to the Medicare physician payment system after the latest temporary Congressional SGR fix in April, the need to ensure adequate provider networks for patient care, and upcoming judicial rulings on healthcare-related issues such as liability, patient privacy, and the regulation of practices by state licensure boards.