Seven months into the first year of the Quality Payment Program, the new value-based payment plan set up by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), and doctors’ knowledge of the program is still light.

“Physicians, especially those in small practices, need more help in preparing” for participation in QPP either through the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs), according to a new report issued by the American Medical Association and consulting firm KPMG.

The AMA and KPMG surveyed 1,000 physicians, of which 51% said they were “somewhat knowledgeable about MACRA or the QPP, whereas less than 1 in 10 physicians (8%) felt deeply knowledgeable about QPP and its requirements,” the report states. “Just over 4 in 10 physicians (41%) had heard of MACRA or QPP, but did not consider themselves knowledgeable.”

That said, about 70% of those surveyed responded that they have begun preparing to meet the requirements of the QPP in 2017. The survey did not make clear whether this meant meeting the minimum requirements to avoid any penalties or doing more to become eligible for potential bonus Medicare payments.

“Even those who feel prepared still don’t fully understand the financial ramifications of the program,” the report said. “In short, they may be prepared to ‘check the box’ of reporting requirements, but may lack the long-term strategic financial vision to succeed in 2018 and beyond,” noting that only 8% of the respondents said they are “very prepared” for long-term financial success. On the other side of the that spectrum, 26% said they are not at all prepared and 58% said they were slightly prepared.

Survey respondents indicated a number of areas where they need help:

• Time required to accurately capture and report performance data (66%)

• Understanding reporting requirements (58%)

• Understanding the overall MIPS scoring process (57%)

• Cost required to accurately capture and report performance data (53%)

• Organizational infrastructure needed to report performance (49%)

The report also noted the significant differences when it comes to practice size, although the differences were “not unexpected.” For example, solo practices, compared to those groups of 50 or more physicians, were “significantly more likely (56%) to view reporting requirements as very burdensome, … significantly more like to feel ‘not at all prepared’ for long-term financial success, … less likely to be participating in an advanced APM, [and] less likely to have begun preparing.”

Specialists, more so than primary care physicians were “slightly more likely to be deeply knowledgeable about MACRA/QPP, [and] more likely to expect to participate in MIPS (61% versus 48%) and less likely to participate in an advanced APM (15% versus 22%),” the report adds.

“Ongoing educational assistance from CMS, as well as those in the private sector, should focus on the areas where physicians need the most help: understanding requirements and potential financial impact, selection of quality measures, and clinical practice transformation strategies,” the report states.

The survey comes on the heels of CMS releasing its proposed update to the regulations surrounding the QPP for 2018. Comments on the proposed regulatory update are due to CMS on Aug. 21, 2017.