Doctors and Medical Practitioners Prepare: Three Things to Watch in 2017

By: Randy Hernandez | Chief Marketing Officer

Medical practitioners have to care for their patients, but in a small practice they also have the responsibility of running a business. Keeping up with advances in medical care, the evolution of the insurance landscape, and the day-to-day details of running a practice add up to a demanding job.

Alongside the changes in Medicare, the recent election may bring changes to the Affordable Care Act in the upcoming year, requiring doctors to stay alert and nimble when it comes to billing and managing insurers.

We respect and appreciate the work of our small business owners in the healthcare field. With a nod to how busy life is for medical small business owners, here are three important developments in your field to watch in 2017.

Changes in Medicare (MACRA) Come Into Effect January 1, 2017

Changes in Medicare, namely MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act) will drive most medical practices into merit-based incentive payment systems. These changes are on a fast schedule. The final report was issued in November 2016 and the first reporting year starts January 2017.

According to Athena Health, unless they take action most clinicians will see a payment adjustment under the new system. Complex reporting will cost more and take time to complete. Scores take into account four areas: quality, cost, coordination of care, and the adoption and use of electronic health records. Furthermore, performance scores are required to be public.

Another complication is that performance periods are a full calendar year instead of 90 days. The performance recorded for all of 2017 will be a factor in 2019 payment adjustments.

There are ways to act now to avoid fees or payment adjustments in the future. Troy Parks, writing for the American Medical Association, outlines three reporting options to help practitioners manage the changes HERE.

There may be a few more changes to the details of the changes to Medicare before the end of the year. The American Medical Association offers an up-to-the-minute page of resources HERE.

Medical Practice Management Software and Electronic Health Records

The push to move all medical practitioners to use electronic health records has been around for a while. Indeed, some of the changes in Medicare are requirements for keeping electronic health records as legislators try to build an efficient and secure network of patient information.

Technology is rapidly moving forward on this front, taking electronic health records to the next level by integrating scheduling, payment, and maintenance of patient information into broader medical practice management software. If records must be electronic, the next logical step is to streamline the records into an overall practice management system.

Security and confidentiality are huge concerns as billing and scheduling dovetails with electronic health records. Medical practitioners of all kinds need to be aware that anyone handling billing will also be subject to the strict guidelines set out by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) should be included in employee training and regularly reviewed to help staff protect patient data.

Implementing a new practice management system for your practice may have initial costs, but long-term benefits as work is streamlined. If your practice needs fast alternatives to business loans to manage an upgrade, our merchant advance products may be a perfect fit.

Retirement Planning for Doctors and Medical Practitioners

The new year may bring many changes to the financial landscape as taxes and billing shift, but planning for retirement planning should be a constant priority for individual doctors and dentists. The big change here is that everyone is one year closer to retirement age and that countdown demands attention and planning.

A study by Fidelity Investments found that 61% of physicians confess to feeling confused about “navigating their financial future.” 42% of physicians are unsure of being able to fund their retirement. In other words, while busy attending to patients many medical professionals are leaving their own financial well-being on the side of the road.

Making changes now to take advantage of retirement programs will lead to retirement success in the future. If possible, enroll and fully fund the workplace retirement plans available. Speak with a financial planner for a retirement check-up and strategize on the best ways to plan for the future.

If you are nearing retirement age or think that downshifting into a part-time work arrangement might be in your future, pay attention to any deadlines and fees that might factor into the bottom line. Many retirement plans like 401(k)s and IRAs allow for an additional “catch up” contribution after the age of 50. Setting aside extra cash now will save on taxes and help build your retirement nest egg. The cutoff date for contributions is in mid-April.

Jet Capital thanks our doctors, dentists, and medical practitioners who juggle careful care for their patients with careful care for their business. We are here for your practice with fast, flexible business funding. Our innovative working capital solutions are an alternative to traditional business loans that are tailored to the needs of your business.

Contact us today for more information about our business lending solutions.

Resources

10 Things to Know about MACRA.

http://landing.athenahealth.com/Global/FileLib/MACRA/MACRA_10Things_Infographic-web.pdf

Parks, T. (2015, September 8). MACRA penalties can now be avoided, CMS says.

https://wire.ama-assn.org/ama-news/macra-penalties-can-now-be-avoided-cms-says

Understanding Medicare Payment Reform (MACRA).

https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/understanding-medicare-payment-reform-macra

Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/laws-regulations/

Financial Check-up on Physicians’ Retirement Readiness.

https://communications.fidelity.com/pdf/physicians-financial-checkup.pdf

401k and Retirement Plan Limits for the Tax Year 2017.

http://www.401khelpcenter.com/2017_401k_plan_limits.html#.WD4B5fkrKM8


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