One year into our Healthy Doctors, Healthier Patients campaign, here is an update on our efforts to reduce administrative burdens and improve physician satisfaction.

 WSMA's Healthy Doctors, Healthier Patients campaign will work to improve physician satisfaction by decreasing administrative burden and allowing physicians to do what they do best: provide excellent patient care. Take a look below at what we've managed to achieve in just one year with the support of our members—real, tangible change that will positively impact the practice of medicine in Washington state.

Then, review the links to the left to other Healthier Doctors, Healthier Patients webpages to see why the issues of administrative burden and physician burnout continue to impact physicians' ability to provide optimal care for their patients—and themselves. Understand what's causing physician burnout and how the WSMA helps alleviate administrative burden. Track the progress of our ongoing work, and find out how you can take action to fight back against excessive burden and burnout.

Healthy Doctors, Healthier Patients successes

Physician credentialing

We successfully advocated during the 2016 legislative session for a standardized credentialing process that streamlines credentialing applications and limits the turn-around time for insurers to approve or deny those applications. As a result:

  • Starting on June 1, 2018, insurers must credential physicians and other providers within 90 days (and beginning in 2020, an average of 60 days).
  • Insurers and providers must eventually utilize the same database—ProviderSource—for credentialing, thereby streamlining the process.

Prior authorization

We pursued regulatory and collaborative approaches to increase the efficiency of prior authorization processes and create greater harmonization across payers.

  • With the WSMA’s continued advocacy, the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) has finalized rulemaking to regulate insurers’ prior authorization processes and has been receptive to WSMA comment and advocacy regarding increased transparency, requiring timely approval or denial of requests and other concerns. 
  • We also collaborated with commercial insurers to explore avenues to alleviate administrative burden and improve efficiencies, and convened a workgroup with insurers to explore innovative alternatives to traditional prior authorization through OneHealthPort.

Prescription monitoring program

In partnership with the WSHA, we brought forth successful legislation making it easier for groups of physicians to use the state’s prescription monitoring program and increasing incentives to boost participation. As a result:

  • The Department of Health is on track to make the state’s prescription monitoring program accessible to prescribers without a DEA license who prescribe legend drugs, extending access to this valuable prescribing data to approximately 14,000 additional providers.
  • The legislation authorizes clinics and facilities with five or more prescribing providers to register with the program on behalf of individual providers.
  • Interim measures currently allow facilities and clinics to send requests using the license of a medical director with an active Prescription Review account.

In our comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding its proposed rule on MACRA (the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015), the WSMA urged CMS to give priority weight to all physician use of state prescription drug monitoring programs when calculating scores for the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, to increase financial incentives for physicians to use these important programs.

Smooth workflow

Workflows of clinics and facilities that use medical assistants to retrieve medication were at risk, due to a misinterpretation of language in the MA scope-of-practice statute. During the 2016 legislative session, we focused on minimizing unnecessary interruptions in practice operations. As a result:

  • Beginning June 1, 2016, the “administering” of a drug, including both retrieval and application of medication, by a medical assistant, is now in statute—meaning groups that use medical assistants to retrieve medication can retain their current workflows.

Physician health and wellness

Professional training has in many cases not adequately prepared clinicians to manage stressors that place their emotional and physical well-being at risk. We introduced a physician wellness center, which provides an array of CME and resources designed to cultivate the components of physician well-being: resilience, stress management, mindfulness, compassion cultivation, life balance, workflow efficiency and leadership development.

Member support

Recognizing that many physicians feel overwhelmed by the never-ending tug-of-war between paperwork and patient care, we offered as a benefit of membership a variety of support services—practice, legal, legislative, regulatory and clinical— to help decrease administrative burden and allow physicians to focus on what matters most: the health of their patients.