July 16, 2021, 3:48 p.m. News Staff ― When you first started thinking about pursuing a career in family medicine, did you see yourself hunched over a laptop typing into your EHR, or were you reassuring a worried mom that her baby’s sudden fever ― absent other symptoms ― is most likely nothing serious? Did you envision spending hours on the phone trying to convince insurance reps that, yes, your patient does in fact need a medication that’s not on their plan’s formulary, or were you counseling a young teen about the risks of vaping?
Long story short: You didn’t go into medicine to jump through bureaucratic hoops at the expense of caring for patients. Through membership survey results and qualitative research, you’ve made it abundantly clear that reducing administrative complexity is your No. 1 priority. The Academy has heard that directive loud and clear and is committed to finding solutions.
The AAFP’s Principles for Administrative Simplification have been a key driver of that process. Adopted in 2018, the principles were intended to ensure that patients have timely access to treatment while reducing administrative burden on physicians. They cover four specific areas members view as particularly problematic: prior authorization, quality measures and the need for harmonization across measures, certification and documentation, and medical record documentation.
Visit the AAFP’s newly launched Administrative Simplification webpage for a look at how the Academy is working to cut administrative burden. It’s a battle that’s being fought on multiple fronts, and this new resource highlights many of those efforts.
Recognizing that administrative complexity and regulatory burden are among the top drivers of independent practice closures and the chief causes of physician burnout, the AAFP advocates for legislative measures and regulatory policy that advance industry-wide administrative simplification.
Specifically, the Academy has called for bolstering electronic data exchange and removing needless burdens that plague the compliance, claims and billing processes, including by urging CMS to eliminate aspects of the Medicare and Medicaid programs that are unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome for family physicians and their patients. Similar efforts are being pursued with private payers.
Those efforts are seeing results: Ongoing AAFP advocacy to ease prior authorization requirements has prompted CMS to propose that certain health plans automate prior authorization processes. Academy input is also reflected in CMS’ decision to delay implementation of the burdensome Medicare Appropriate Use Criteria program until 2022. (And work continues to halt implementation of the AUC program altogether.)
The new web resource highlights other ways the AAFP is working to cut members’ administrative burden, focusing on activities, tools and programs that seek to tackle specific aspects of the problem.
Finally, the July/August issue of FPM is largely devoted to administrative simplification, with how-to articles on a range of related topics, including “Practical Ways to Manage Your EHR Inbox,” “FMLA Does Not Need to Be a Four-Letter Word” and “A Step-by-Step Time-Saving Approach to Coding Office Visits.”
Also in the issue, FPM Editor Sarina Schrager, M.D., M.S., provides insight into her office’s experiences with onerous clerical tasks and other practice hassles and outlines how she and her team are working to lessen the load. And in another feature, AAFP staff experts offer a roundup of what the Academy is doing to tackle administrative complexity.