5 Trends for Physician Partners in 2020 and Beyond

Addison McNattBilling, Communication

The healthcare landscape is constantly changing, and no one feels those changes more than private practice owners.

Physician groups that own their practices are ultimately responsible for keeping abreast of these new developments, in addition to staying on top of day-to-day operations. Check out these five emerging trends that physician partners need to be watching in 2020.

1. Buying In or Out of an IPA

If you are not part of a physician partnership, but are looking to join one, there are quite a few things to consider before you decide. Being a partner in a group practice offers many potential benefits, but also many risks since you will share in the liability as well as the profits. 

Before buying into an independent practice association (IPA), be sure to do your research about the practice in question. If you receive an initial proposal to be a partner, take the time to look into that  group’s financial standing, including liabilities and lines of credit. Since you will likely be a guarantor of those debts, a practice that is not forthcoming with that information may be one to avoid.

For private practice doctors who already own an IPA, bringing in a new partner may be a great way to grow your business and expand into different types of medical practice. But there is also potential risk if you fail to do your due diligence.

Before admitting a potential partner, sit down with them to assess what they bring to the table. Their skills and vision may align perfectly with your practice’s needs. But if they don’t, it is best to know before a medical partnership agreement is drafted.

2. Mergers & Acquisitions

Like much of the economy today, private medical practices are frequently being acquired and absorbed into a small number of large corporations. A study in 2018 by the Physicians Advocacy Institute reported that hospital acquisitions of physician practices had increased 128% from 2012.

This consolidation can be seen as a blessing or a curse depending on the needs of your physician group. Some doctors may welcome the relief from the stresses of management, but others may resist the loss of independence.

In the past, acquisition activity has mostly come from hospitals and health systems, but recent years have seen a massive influx of investment from the private equity industry. Additional activity from strategic aggregators means physician group mergers and acquisitions are at an all-time high.

3. Diversification

Independent physician groups and large hospitals/health systems alike have been seeking more patient-centered medical practice partnership models lately. Larger health systems are continuing to diversify in terms of size and specialization, acquiring many smaller specialty groups to expand their patient services and volume.

These expanded models have been cited as a leading factor in the recent diversification of investor interest discussed above. Likewise, independent physician groups have been moving toward collaborative models of partnership such as team-based care.

Team-based care models

All physicians are familiar with the concept of burnout, an acute exhaustion caused by long-term occupational stressors. For those who are in private practice medicine, a significant amount of their day can be spent doing daily management and outreach. These demands can interfere with the time needed to actually examine, diagnose and treat patients. 

To alleviate this, many primary care physician practices have employed team-based care models to properly address patient needs and concerns. In these models, physicians work alongside other support providers like nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to give patients the time and attention they deserve.

Physicians with different specialties can provide invaluable insight.

4. Changes in reimbursement

Uncertainty about the reimbursement landscape has driven many IPA’s to partner with larger health systems and hospitals, who can often provide stability in a constantly changing environment.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), for instance, is currently in effect but is often on the verge of being repealed. This can create anxiety in patients and physicians alike. Millions of Americans currently depend on it for basic healthcare needs, especially if they receive Medicaid or have pre-existing conditions. 

Doctors who accept Medicare must also be aware of the fluctuating reimbursement methods of Medicare. Every year, updates are made to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (or PFS) that alter the payment policies, rates, and quality provisions for eligible expenses.

5. Outsourcing administrative duties

The numerous legal, financial, and administrative obligations of physician groups can be daunting for any private practice startup. From physician billing to claims and quality reporting, administrative tasks can quickly overwhelm doctors and detract from their ability to provide direct patient care. In response, a growing number of practices are finding outsourcing to be the most time and cost-efficient solution.

Not only can outsourcing cut costs, it has been shown to actually add value in business development and strategic assessment. Most of all, it allows practices to focus on their core business: providing the highest quality care to the largest patient base possible. 

If your practice is finding itself swamped in menial administrative duties, consider outsourcing some of them to a service like Healthmatch.com. We can help keep your patients in the loop by informing them of network changes, new or departing staff members, or changes in office location or hours. We can even schedule appointments and annual wellness visits for your patients, all while keeping their data and privacy protected.

To speak with one of our implementation managers about customizing a service plan for your practice, click here or give us a call at 1-844-551-1755.