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MGMA Report: 2021 Lessons and Priorities for Medical Practices

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   January 19, 2021

Medical practices, which make up 40% of the overall U.S. healthcare system, will need to focus on several initiatives, including addressing staff needs, utilizing technology, and the measurement of key metrics.

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) released a report Monday afternoon identifying the "biggest lessons and priorities for medical practices in 2021."

Medical practices, which make up 40% of the overall U.S. healthcare system, faced challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, much like the rest of the healthcare system. In December, MGMA released the Stat 2020 Year in Review, which outlined the hardships and lessons learned during the year of COVID.

Looking forward, medical practices will need to focus on several initiatives, including addressing staff needs, utilizing technology, and the measurement of key metrics.

"While 2020 presented unparalleled challenges, the historic year was pivotal in shaping our industry’s future, accelerating us to address and find solutions to problems we have seen and felt for decades," Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, MMM, FAAP, FACMPE, president and CEO of MGMA, said in a statement. "In this new year, medical practices will continue to be agile and innovative, and MGMA will do all we can to support and provide the necessary resources to help them recover to pre-pandemic levels."

MGMA identified the following as priorities medical practices should take into consideration for 2021.

ADDRESSING STAFF NEEDS

According to MGMA, during the pandemic, 40% of medical practices reported staff shortages and more than half indicated that they addressed their staff's mental health. In 2021, managing both staff shortages and staff mental health will continue to be a priority.

Promoting staff morale will be "instrumental" to organizational success as well. MGMA suggested restoring bonuses to boost morale in the absence of in-person gatherings.

Due to "fewer nonclinical staff members in a facility," leaders may need to access the practice's space needs for 2021. MGMA found only 12% of medical practices are planning to move to a smaller space in the coming months and noted that leaders can consider "repurposing office space” or “finding a better fit" for their needs.

UTILIZING TECHNOLOGY

One of the biggest technology booms during the pandemic was the utilization of telemedicine, and which will continue to "play a vital role" in practices. MGMA reports 97% of practices have expanded their telehealth services.

Other health technologies, such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) may be utilized in the upcoming year. While MGMA found only 21% of practices are currently offering RPM, the integration of RPM may increase in 2021.

MEASURING KEY METRICS

MGMA reported one-third of practice leaders are changing the way they measure key metrics. Measurements in data have shifted from months to weeks to "monitor for drops in revenue" and to help with updated forecasting.

These data measurements will continue in 2021 to give an accurate representation of the practices’ key metrics.

Melanie Blackman is the strategy editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


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