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3 Ways Doctors Can Remain Independent in These Changing Times

The number of Independent physicians in the US has continued to drop sharply over the last couple of years. A study by Accenture reveals that the number of independent physicians in the US dropped from 57% in 2000 to 37% in 2013. This number is predicted to decline to 33% by the end of 2016.

Independent physicians are facing market conditions that have led many to fold their practices and seek employment within health organizations, particularly hospitals. Challenges such as high staff wages, ever-increasing rent and equipment costs, rising administrative burdens and decreasing Medicare and insurance payments are pushing independent physicians out of their practices.

The decline in the number of independent physicians has forced those remaining to change the way they run their practices. How can you ensure that your own practice remains standing as the market continues to evolve?

Overhaul Your Billing System

Declining profits are a major concern among independent practitioners and the allure of salaries from big hospitals is enticing. To ensure that your practice is making the profit it deserves, your billing system must be effective. Practices are known to fail to bill for almost 12% of their services due to faulty billing systems.

Evaluate your current billing system and find out if it is serving your practice well. Make sure you have a qualified individual in your practice in charge of running the billing system, who will see to it that all services and claims are properly billed.

Another way to avoid losing out on money is by ensuring that referrals and insurance authorizations are confirmed before a service is rendered to avoid later payment denials from insurance companies. To maximize revenue, require patients to co-pay during check-in. This may be difficult for some physicians, but setting clear financial policies is essential if you want to survive these changing times.

Join an Independent Physician Association (IPA)

If you feel that running a service on your own is getting too tough, instead of selling, consider aligning yourself with other providers by joining an Independent Physician Association (IPA). IPAs are associations of independent practices in charge of negotiating contracts on behalf of member practices with insurers. So if negotiating reimbursement rates is not your strength, you might want to have someone do it for you.

Consider other Alliances

If IPAs are not a good fit for you, consider Professional Services Agreement (PSA) that enable you to be employed by a hospital without losing ownership of your practice. Such an agreement is perfect because you get to practice independently in groups with the added support of a hospital organization. With a PSA you do not have to bear all the challenges of providing quality service alone.

These are just a few approaches you can take in changing your business model if you want to retain your independence in the face of an increasingly disruptive market.