BALANCING KIDNEY CARE

MATCHING PATIENTS TO PROGRAMS FOR SUCCESS IN FFS AND VBC

ft. Jennifer Huneycutt CPA, CMPE of Metrolina Nephrology Associates

Top Trends from Neuronet Summit 2024

Jamal Elkhaldy & Phil Martini • PUBLISHED 2024/02/06

Neurologists have practice management on the brain - top trends from the NeuroNet Summit 2024

Coming out of the NeuroNet Summit 2024 last week, one thing is clear: neurology leaders are actively seeking solutions to the industry-wide challenges putting their practices at risk.

Workforce instability is driving AI adoption

Medical groups across all specialties are struggling with workforce instability – but neurology groups find it particularly challenging to staff clinical roles.

More work, fewer staff - according to Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting, physician productivity increased 6% from 2022 to 2023

The 2023 AMGA Clinic Staffing Survey found that overall clinic staffing has recovered overall since 2020 pandemic-related declines – but those gains were mainly in front office and administrative roles. Medical groups saw declines in staffing for clinical team members who provide direct patient care. Those declines become even more pronounced when adjusted for volume.

The AMGA found that median direct patient care staff per 10,000 wRVU declined 26% from 2020 to 2023

Neurology groups in particular are having a tough time filling clinical roles and retaining staff. Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting’s Lucas Hutchison, MHA recently told us that labor expenses now make up 84.8% of total expenses for medical groups – up from 82.4% in 2021. Neurology practices need to recruit and retain specialized clinical staff in a highly competitive market across all roles. Neurology groups may not be able to compete with the higher salaries mid-level practitioners can get from hospitals and are seeing increased turnover among CMAs and LPNs. 

Back in 2022, the American Academy of Neurology interviewed 27 neurology practice business administrators and physician leaders about their strategies for coping with challenges hiring and retaining staff. These strategies are still in use – but practice leaders are finding that AI is becoming a must have. Practices need to work smarter, not harder.

Over 90% of medical groups have implemented at least one process improvement or automation strategy

But what will AI implementation look like in neurology?

Some neurology leaders know they have a lot of valuable data about their patients – but accessing and making sense of it is a challenge. Specialists are moving into population health management and need tools to understand and engage their panels holistically. Can neurologists identify and act on early detection opportunities using the multiple markers that indicate potential dementia and Alzheimer’s disease? 

Others want to apply best practices by determining what data is useful for real-time insights, how to access that data, and what workflows could put it in front of someone who could take action to improve patient care. When patients with chronic disease require so much care, how can their physicians identify the right signals and make sure nothing falls through the cracks?

Many neurology leaders  are trying to determine how to balance the use of human staff versus automated intelligence. A shortage of neurologists means it takes patients 6-9 months to be seen and many have to travel far distances. Can AI-supported care teams see more patients?

Practices looking for better engagement strategies

Neurology leaders spent time in Dallas discussing the need to improve engagement across all stakeholders: physicians and advanced practice providers, medical group staff, and patients – and even payers. Some discussion highlights: 

  • Patients: Families of dementia patients need more education and care plans for support between their 3-6 month visits. 
  • Payers: When neurology clinics get newly-approved drugs, it’s a struggle to get payers to approve their use and reimburse the practice. 
  • Referring primary care providers: Neurologists need better information handoffs from PCPs – and want guidance on how to implement capabilities like chronic care management in a way that supports rather than steps on the toes of referring PCPs.

Margin compression drives business expansion

Neurology practice administrators want to support new clinical programs, but find it difficult to balance their budgets. When polled, over half of attendees responding said that their overhead was 51-60%. 

Like other medical group leaders, neurology practice leaders continue to combat margin compression with a portfolio of strategies. Most recognize the need for ancillary services to stay competitive and profitable – whether infusions or an in-house chronic care management service line. 

Smaller clinics want to be able to set their own rates and be more in control of margins and rolling out products that can combat the decline of Medicare reimbursements. When polled, 50% of attendees responding said that reimbursements were their biggest challenge. Many are looking at partnering with pharmaceutical companies who need data for predictive analytics and the identification of potential candidates for research trials. 

At the same time, practices struggle with the new investments because of the upfront cost and unknown or extended timeframe for earning revenue back on that investment. Chronic care management – which can be launched quickly for fast cash flow – can give practices some financial flexibility.

Chronic care management for neurologists

If we missed you in Dallas this week, we’d still love to connect about strategies to help you expand margin, improve patient engagement, and improve operational efficiencies with an in-house Chronic Care Management service line.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch at sales@phamily.com!

Authors Phil Martini and Jamal Elkhaldy at the NeuroNet Summit 2024 in Dallas TX