5 key thoughts on new practice models for independent physicians — Which will stick?

There are still many physicians who wish to remain independent as the healthcare environment shifts toward collaborative and value-based care.

According to the "Physician Migratory Patterns: Threats to Independents and Implications for the Future" report from ProCare Systems, around 73 percent of independent physician respondents said they would prefer not to sell their practices—even though 44 percent said they likely would.

Here are five key thoughts on the most attractive practice models for independent physicians:

1. Practice management and shared equity models allow independent physician groups to participate in a larger network of regional practices centrally managed with an equity element for each participant. Twenty-eight percent of the survey respondents found this strategy most attractive.

The model emphasizes active practice management to drive scale, productivity and efficiency while allowing physicians to retain practice independence.

2. Nearly half — 49 percent — of the physician respondents said aligning with other like-minded specialists in independent practice associations was the most attractive model. IPAs are a loose strategic alliance relationship that doesn't include equity partnership but focuses on increased size and scale for payer negotiations and other partnerships.

3. Formal mergers and acquisitions were the most attractive option for 23 percent of the respondents. These "mega" practices have an increased size advantage, greater payer contract leverage and economies of scale.

4. Thirty-seven percent of physicians envision a future where disease management and "whole person care" will impact their practice operations. Another 34 percent said they "somewhat agree" with that vision while 20 percent were neutral.

5. Fifty-seven percent of physician respondents aid they envisioned a future where reimbursement requires outcomes measures that demonstrate quality and value. Another 31 percent said they "somewhat agree" with that vision.

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