Do you have what it takes to thrive as an independent physician?

Posted by Continuum on Aug 30, 2016 2:00:00 PM

Fortune favors the bold

The primary care market is shifting. Shifting regulations and evolving payment models are shaking the foundations of traditional MaleDoctor_GettyImages-463029367.jpgindependent primary care practices—and these market forces are even stronger than new and old competitors. As the CEO of a physician practice in Maryland recently told us:

“Many doctors feel like they aren’t doing very well, when in fact, they’re performing exceptionally.” 

Maintaining the status quo is no longer enough to keep your doors open—maintaining your independence demands innovation, evolution, and transformation. As value begins to overtake fee-for-service payment models, there seem to be three options for PCPs: join a hospital or large healthcare organization, evolve your independent practice, or watch as your patient visits dwindle. The pressure to make the choice between becoming an employee of a large org, and losing your autonomy when you do, or staying independent is stronger than ever before.

For independent physicians, though, there’s an option that delivers the benefits of joining a large group, without the drawbacks of being swallowed by a massive corporation. New and changing partnership models allow you to stay independent without going it alone. Explore some of these new business models to help expand your revenue streams—and future-proof your practice:

  • Clinically integrated networks (CINs)help you collaborate and cooperate with other physicians, sharing information and using your enhanced buying power to improve your office and supply chain without hurting your overhead. A few of their benefits include:
    • Centralized data management
    • Low participation costs
    • Enhanced patient tracking and management
    • Quality and optimization standards

  • Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are a more formalized version of clinically integrated networks, applying more structure to the network, and demanding an increased risk-sharing agreement. Some of their key benefits include the following:
    • Improved workflow
    • Enhanced population health tools and approaches
    • Effective means to share best practices and treatment strategies
    • Opportunity to generate—and benefit from—increased shared savings
Both of these options offer ways for physicians to work together. Even if the individual physicians aren’t economically aligned in terms of practice size, they still maintain their own tax IDs, run their own operations, and maintain their own authority. At the same time, they can take advantage of the size and scale of a larger organization to increase their technical capacity and capabilities, as well as strengthen their negotiation power with payers.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when considering these options is to choose your partners wisely. Ensure that the people you work with are on board with the shared vision for the integrated network, and are willing to be champions for the combined success of all the independent members. Ensure that the team has the right tools and technology in place and optimized to drive success and accountability. These will help ensure that you meet the goals of payment reform initiatives, capture the maximum payments, enhance quality, and increase patient satisfaction.

Topics: CIN, ACO, independent physician practice

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