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Independent practice

The Future of Independent Medical Practices

Safeguarding your independence

Just as freedom isn’t free, independence isn’t always easy. The healthcare economy continues to push physicians toward employment with large practices and comprehensive health systems. For those who value the independent practice of medicine, the pressure is on.

Yes, you can buck this trend—but it requires forethought and planning. There’s a price for control of your professional destiny—taking responsibility for your practice’s financial future.

Increasing regulation and declining reimbursement

The hard truth—the independent practice of medicine is declining, while employment is becoming a more common path for physicians. Know what you’re up against:

6%

decrease in physicians with ownership stakes in a medical practice from 2012 to 20161

5%

increase in patient care physicians with employed positions from 2012 to 20161

5,000

independent physician practices acquired by hospitals between 2015 and 20162

 

For physicians who want to remain independent, it’s not just a matter of statistics; this challenge is reflected in the routine of each workday. As government regulation increases and reimbursement decreases, running a practice profitably requires more effort.

The shift to value-based reimbursement poses a major concern. Independent practices may struggle with strict, burdensome, and ever-changing federal regulations. They may lack the infrastructure needed to collect, manage, and report data.

The psychological price of bureaucracy

In addition, financial challenges are compounded by stress from excessive time spent on uncompensated, non-clinical tasks. Consider that:

49.2%

of a doctor’s office day is spent on EHRs and desk work3

70%

of physicians say that too much paperwork and bureaucracy are the top factors contributing to their stress4

$50,000

in revenue is lost annually per physician on average because of busywork5

 

Intervening to help patients achieve their optimal health can be stressful; however, it fuels one’s sense of purpose. Stress from excessive paperwork can seem meaningless, and coping with it can be challenging.

Don’t go it alone

Carefully chosen partners—experts in business and technology who can help you run your business as efficiently and effectively—are now an absolute necessity. The trusted advisors you select to surround your practice are your protection and support for maintaining independence.

The right professional and health IT support can help you establish workflows, policies, and procedures that set you up for success. To continue to thrive in this complex sector of the economy, consider the value of expert consultation. It can help in identifying emerging trends and choosing the appropriate technology-based solutions in response. For example:

  • Healthcare is now a competitive marketplace—efficiency is everything. The right health IT vendor can point you toward an EHR solution that incorporates processes and workflows to maximize efficiency, such as instant eligibility checks.
  • Patients are now in the driver’s seat—solutions are available to help improve the patient experience. Telemedicine capabilities create opportunities to increase practice revenue. Tools that facilitate listing your practice on online directories and medical review sites can strengthen your marketing efforts.
  • You need help coping with the regulatory weight on your practice—standardized and customized reporting solutions can free up your time for patient care.
  • Tighter reimbursements make it urgent to maximize revenue efficiency—seek solutions that help you increase your clean claims rate, reduce denials, and better manage the revenue cycle.

The irony of contemporary medical practice is this: if you want to remain independent, don’t go it alone.

Learn more about our independent, and small practice solutions NextGen Office and NextGen Enterprise.

1 “Study Reveals Practice Owners No Longer the Physician Majority.” American Medical Association. Last updated May 31, 2017. https://www.ama-assn.org/study-reveals-practice-owners-no-longer-physician-majority.

2 Jaime Rosenberg. “Hospital Acquisition of Independent Physician Practices Continues to Increase,” In Focus Blog (blog), ajmc.com, March 21, 2018. https://www.ajmc.com/focus-of-the-week/hospital-acquisition-of-independent-physician-practices-continues-to-increase.

3 “Doctors spend 27% of the workday with patients, study finds. What do they do for the rest of it?” Advisory Board. Last updated September 8, 2016. https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2016/09/08/documentation-time.

4 "Strained Healthcare System Hurts Doctors and Affects Patient Care." MDVIP. Last updated September 20, 2017. https://www.mdvip.com/about-mdvip/press-room/strained-healthcare-system-hurts-doctors-affects-patient-care.

5 Jeff Bendix, Rose Schneider Krivich, Keith L. Martin, Chris Mazzolini, and Todd Shryock, “Top 10 challenges facing physicians in 2018,” UBM Life Sciences, http://content.ubmlifesciences.com/article/top-10-challenges-facing-physicians-2018.