5 trends on how independent physicians think they'll be able to stay that way

Independent physicians are constantly in flux as new rules and regulations in the healthcare space are breeding new challenges and innovation in practice models.

ProCare Systems released the 2015 Independent Physician Outlook Survey in a report titled "Physicians Migratory Patterns: Threats to Independents and Implications for the Future." Here are five things to know from the report:

1. Almost half — 49 percent — of the respondents reported independent physician associations were the most attractive way for them to maintain independence and autonomy. The IPAs align physicians with other like-minded specialists through loose alliances; there isn't equity participation but the larger group does increase the size of scale for payer negotiations and can organize larger systems of care.

2. There were 28 percent of the respondents that preferred a practice management or shared equity model to maintain their independence. This model allows physicians to participate in large regional practices managed with an "equity element for each participant." This model typically requires active practice management to drive scale, productivity and efficiency but the physician is still independent.

3. The final 23 percent of respondents thought mergers and acquisitions between independent groups to great larger "mega" practices was most attractive for staying autonomous. The mega practice model has the advantages of increased size and leverage with payers as well as economies of scale.

4. Most of the respondents envision a future where the employed physicians at larger healthcare institutions migrate back into a private practice or independent practice setting. When asked whether physicians could see this future, they responded:

• Agree: 36 percent
• Somewhat agree: 36 percent
• Somewhat disagree: 12 percent
• Disagree: 4 percent

Another 12 percent were neutral.

5. When asked whether they envision a future of independent medical groups becoming more innovative with business models to reclaim autonomy as well as avoid cost pressure and co-exist with larger organizations, the respondents replied:

• Agree: 49 percent
• Somewhat agree: 35 percent
• Somewhat disagree: 6 percent
• Disagree: 0 percent

Another 10 percent were neutral.

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