Practice characteristics and prior authorization costs: secondary analysis of data collected by SALT-Net in 9 central New York primary care practices.

BMC health services research

PubMedID: 24597483

Epling JW, Mader EM, Morley CP. Practice characteristics and prior authorization costs: secondary analysis of data collected by SALT-Net in 9 central New York primary care practices. BMC Health Serv Res. 2014;14(1):109.
BACKGROUND
An increase in prior authorization (PA) requirements from health insurance companies is placing administrative and financial burdens on primary care offices across the United States. As time allocation for these cases continues to grow, physicians are concerned with additional workload and inefficiency in the workplace. The objective is to estimate the effects of practice characteristics on time spent per prior authorization request in primary care practices.

METHODS
Secondary analysis was performed using data on nine primary care practices in Central New York. Practice characteristics and demographics were collected at the onset of the study. In addition, participants were instructed to complete an "event form" (EF) to document each prior authorization event during a 4-6 week period; prior authorizations included requests for medication as well as other health care services. Stepwise Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) Regression was used to model Time in Minutes of each event as an outcome of various factors.

RESULTS
Prior authorization events (N = 435) took roughly 20 minutes to complete (beta = 20.017, p < .001); Medicaid requests took less time (beta = -6.085, p < .001), and Electronic Health Record (EHR) system use reduced prior authorization time by about 5 minutes (beta = -5.086, p = .002).

CONCLUSIONS
While prior authorization events impose substantial costs to primary care offices, it appears that Medicaid requests take less time than private payer requests. Results from the study provide support that Electronic Health Record usage may also reduce time required to complete prior authorization requests.