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How to overcome today’s common practice challenges

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Practicing medicine today is increasingly challenging, and the pace of change isn’t getting any slower. To stay viable, practices have to face the challenges head on and develop strategies to thrive in a value-based payment environment.

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The American Medical Association (AMA), in partnership with the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and Klick Health, a digital health agency, has developed a program to provide practice managers and clinicians with the data, tools, education, certification and relationships needed to ensure success in this new era of healthcare reform.

Launched last summer, AMA’s STEPS Forward is a series of interactive educational modules developed by physicians to help physicians address common practice challenges. The program was created using key insights from results of the AMA-RAND Study on Physician Professional Satisfaction.

Currently, STEPS Forward consists of 27 modules. Each module offers real-world solutions, steps to implementation, practical examples, case studies, and downloadable tools and resources. The AMA reported that 86 percent of physicians participating in the series have indicated they are likely to implement solutions offered by the program. Physicians can participate online, at a live event or by downloading a PDF document to obtain continuing medical education (CME) credits for completing the modules.

Modules address four key areas:

  • Practice efficiency and patient care. Various modules provide strategies for improving efficiency. Topics cover transforming a practice through organizational development, creating a team-based model of patient care, eliminating waste in the workday, improving team meetings and work relationships, and adjusting workflow to leverage the skills and training of staff – enabling them to take on additional tasks and responsibilities associated with a patient visit. Other modules cover pre-visit tasks that can improve the patient visit and ways to design a practice’s physical space optimally for improved patient encounters. Revenue cycle management is critical for a practice’s sustainability. This module offers ways to streamline and automate the process to reduce administrative burdens.
  • Technology and innovation. Technology is changing the way practices do business. Electronic health records (EHRs) have become an important element in patient care, and telemedicine is a growing area for many practices. Modules covering EHRs offer advice on EHR software selection, purchase and ongoing learning and improvement. A module on telemedicine offers steps to adopt the new technology in your practice.
  • Patient health. With health outcomes a significant aspect of the value-based payment environment, numerous modules focus on strategies to meet quality requirements and improve patient care. Topics cover simple and effective ways to improve high blood pressure control, medication adherence, and pre-diabetes awareness and patient education. Other modules cover the development of a panel management strategy to provide preventive and chronic illness care and ways to embed behavioral health within primary care to expand the services provided during regular appointments.
  • Physician health. “Rates of overall burnout among U.S. physicians approach 40 percent, more than 10 percentage points higher than the general population,” according to research quoted by the AMA. A high percentage of physicians suffering from burnout can have a significant impact on organizational productivity, morale, costs and the quality of care being delivered. Modules covering physician burnout offer ways to identify and address the issue in your practice, as well as strategies to prevent it.

The AMA will continue to add modules to the series. Physicians, practice managers and others can sign up to receive notification when new modules and live events are added to the website. Additionally, physicians are encouraged to suggest new module topics and share their experiences.

To access the interactive online educational modules, visit the AMA STEPS Forward website at www.stepsforward.org.