To survive as a private practice physician in today’s healthcare environment, it takes astute clinical judgment, effective collaboration with colleagues, innovative problem-solving, and digital technologies to ease the burden and enhance the delivery of care.
The Challenges Facing Private Practice Physicians
The number of physicians owning private practices has decreased over time with many being owned by healthcare systems or health-based companies. There remain a committed few who enjoy having the independence of owning their own practice and being able to have some flexibility in developing a deeper relationship with their patients, but in today’s healthcare environment, physicians face difficulties that can threaten the idea of private practice.
According to the AMA Policy Research Perspectives report, the number of physicians working in private practice is falling with only 49.1% of doctors either owning or working in a physician-owned practice. Many patients value the close relationship that private practices afford them, therefore positively impacting the quality of care they receive. In this model, physicians must balance the expectation of their patients with the day-to-day operations of effectively running a profitable, private practice.
The AMA highlighted a study—“Supporting and Promoting High-Performing Physician-Owned Private Practices: Voices from the Front Lines” – identifying at least eight threats to that style of medical practice. “One of the things we were trying to learn was—what was really going in the decline of private practice?” said Carol Vargo, the AMA’s director of physician practice sustainability and one of the authors of the study, which was co-published with the Oakland, California-based consulting firm Mathematica. “For many patients, private practice is a lifeline, and the erosion of private practices undermines the quality of health care for many.”
For the study, AMA and Mathematica researchers drew from a pool of 3,526 practices with fewer than 15 practitioners that were not owned by health systems and recruited 25 respondent practices, interviewing 25 physicians from these practices. The panel of physicians interviewed identified eight threats to their success:
- Rising administrative burdens.
- Low and falling payment rates.
- Lack of negotiating leverage.
- Recruitment is costly and challenging.
- Hard to get good data to manage patients.
- The cost of IT and the needed support.
- Feeling professionally isolated.
- Bumpy transition for physicians to private practice.
Rethinking the Approach to Private Practice
It is important for a private practice physician to re-exam their practice operations and consider changing their approach to address the challenges. Physician should consider the following:
- Lay out the challenges of that particular practice, which may be consistent with many practices.
- Effectively collaborate with colleagues.
- Develop innovative problem-solving techniques.
- Incorporate digital technologies into the practice to ease some of the burdens and enhance the delivery of care.
Incorporating Digital Technology and Care Coaching into Private Practice
Incorporating the digital technology of remote patient monitoring into the practice, combined with care coaching, can address some of these challenges and ease the burden. The technology of remote patient monitoring allows for the monitoring of patients between physician visits, giving physicians a more comprehensive overview of the patient’s health. This service improves the management of patients with chronic conditions and can positively affect their outcomes. Physicians and care coaches have access to readings via a dashboard or EMR. Alerts are designed to notify the care coach and the physician if a patient’s readings are out of specified ranges. The physician is alerted but care coaches can step in and try to mitigate the situation, assisting the physician.
Care coaches are an added benefit to remote patient monitoring services. Care coaches are licensed nurses who communicate with the patient one-on-one, not only encouraging the importance of taking readings and reviewing them, but also educating and recording real-time information from the patient regarding their current state-of-health. Care Coaches develop relationships with patients which encourages the sharing of necessary medical information that can be considered in the overall treatment plan.
The combination of technology and care coaching improves the management of patients with chronic conditions, improves patient outcomes, prevents emergency situations and last-minute appointment requests with limited availability, eases some administrative burdens, enhances patient satisfaction with the provider, and increases revenue for the practice.
How RPM Healthcare Can Help
RPM Healthcare revolutionizes healthcare delivery with our reimbursable remote coaching and monitoring program. Our digital health solution extends patient care beyond the traditional medical office, enhancing the patient experience, improving clinical outcomes, and ensuring patient safety. We reduce workflow disruptions with our team’s engagement, ensuring treatment adherence, accurate documentation, and effective triaging. Employed, licensed nurses called care coaches become the patients medical resource in between office visits and notify the physician when appropriate. RPM delivers significant improvements in patient outcomes, effective condition management, and reduced costs, helping healthcare providers overcome today’s challenges.
Resource: AMA offers the resources and support physicians need to both start and sustain success in private practice.