I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the TIPAAA 2019 Annual Conference March 21-23. (TIPAAA -The Independent Physician Association of America) This year was their 24th Annual Meeting.
The break-out panels covered a broad spectrum of topics ranging from “The Future of Healthcare Delivery Outside of the Physicians Office”, “Blockchain -vs BitCoin”, to “Cyber Security Trends In Healthcare”, & “Physicians & ACOs” – just to name a few.
One of the most interesting break-outs I attended came on the first day. A panel of physicians from several IPAs discussed the value an IPA can be to private practice physicians. Today, many physicians are struggling to find ways to remain independent. Hospital acquisition of small practices seems to be the disturbing trend in healthcare. We see this first hand with clients on our own service. Many doctors are entering into “employment models” with hospitals and losing their private practices.
In an effort to circumvent this trend, doctors are turning to IPAs as a way to remain independent while still being able to flourish fiscally and in patient care. Some of the benefits of joining an IPA include: support from other physicians who share resources, data, financial risk, and even overhead costs. IPAs also offer assistance with practice management and administration tasks, peer support, and the ability of the IPA to negotiate favorable contracts offering significant savings to the members. You can save on everything from EMRs to office medical supplies, and even contact center needs (such as PFMI). Being part of an Independent Physician Association allows individual providers the opportunity to remain independent, while having the collective strength of its association to expand their patient base and remain competitive in today’s evolving healthcare environment.
This is great! So why isn’t everyone part of an IPA? Well first, IPAs require you to sign a contract. If the IPA you are looking to join is underfunded that could affect a physician's personal finances. Also, one must consider the trend of “Risk Contracts” IPAs are being asked to take on. Of course I was at an IPA conference, so they didn’t offer too many cons. They did warn IPAs to make sure they plan for “risk contracts” which could affect the profitability of the association.
Although there may be risk in joining an IPA, many of the doctors that we spoke with are very happy with their decision to become a member. IPAs offer not only security for independence but allow doctors to get back to the business of being a doctor and caring for patients.
On an unrelated note, yet, something I found astonishing: I learned that at one time there were over 1500 EMR systems. Even today, one office can use 5, 10, or even 40 different EMR systems. No wonder there are so many classes on medical coding and billing. You need a PhD to figure out all of the different systems! I also didn’t realize how much doctors and their staff really don’t like EMRs. Who knew? I'm certain you did. As they say, you learn something new every day.
Stayed tuned for next month’s article, where I will share information I learned on “Tele-Medicine”. According to the presenters, it is already here but will be more mainstream soon.
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