Half of Independent Specialists Expect to Sell Their Practices, But Not Because They Want To, According to New ProCare Study

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Escalating Costs and Downward Reimbursement Pressure Top Reasons Pushing Independent Specialists to Sell; But Pressure to Consolidate is Also Driving Innovation as Independents Seek New Practice Models to Sustain Their Autonomy

Facing a perfect storm of rising costs, downward reimbursement pressure and fickle referral streams, 44 percent of independent physicians expect to sell their practices in the next decade — though three-quarters of them would prefer not to. This is among the key findings of the “2015 Independent Physician Outlook & Sentiment Survey” conducted by consultancy ProCare Systems, which advises independent physician groups across the country.

But even as they anticipate consolidation, 94 percent of the physicians believe market dynamics should give rise to new practice models that foster physician independence.

  • Roughly half of the physicians surveyed, 49 percent, said they would be interested in Independent Practice Associations (IPAs) which offer a focus on increased scale for negotiating with payers and larger organized systems of care.
  • Twenty-eight percent said they would be interested in pursuing a Practice Management/Shared Equity Model where independent physician groups participate in a network of larger regional practices that are centrally managed with an equity element for each participant.
  • Twenty-three percent said they would be interested in structuring formal mergers and acquisitions with other independent, single-specialty practices to create larger practices which benefit from the advantages of increased size, including greater leverage with payers, and greater economies of scale.

Other key findings from the 2015 Independent Physician Outlook & Sentiment Survey:

  • Thirty-nine percent of specialists surveyed said “maintaining referral streams in light of competing and larger healthcare systems” was either the first or second largest challenge to their independence. The only larger concern was rising costs and downward reimbursement pressure, which 66 percent pointed to as their first or second concern.
  • Forty-four percent of independent specialists anticipate selling their practices within 10 years even though 73 percent said they would prefer not to sell.
  • Seventy-two percent said they envision the trend of reverse migration where a significant number of physicians will return from health systems to independent practice in the future.
  • Seventy-percent said the “specialized nature of their practice within the local healthcare community” was the most important factor in sustaining their ability to remain independent.
  • Eighty-four percent of specialists envision a future in which independent medical groups will adopt more innovative business models in order to reclaim their autonomy, stave off cost pressures and successfully coexist with emerging organized systems of care.
  • Eighty-eight percent of respondents predict reimbursement will eventually be dependent on clinical outcomes measures that demonstrate quality and value.
  • Seventy-one percent of physicians expect disease management care of the whole patient to be become an important factor in how practices operate.

“Given the staggering majority of physicians that desire continued independence, the findings in this survey indicate that independent specialists can no longer take a ‘business as usual’ approach to their future,” said Fred N. Davis, MD, co-founder and president of ProCare Systems. “Physicians can thrive in their practices, rather than becoming employed by larger healthcare institutions, by embracing innovative practice models designed to meet the increasing complexity of today’s healthcare environment while keeping their practices sustainable and profitable.”

ProCare Systems conducted a quantitative analysis of responses from independent physicians practicing in a wide variety of specialties via an online survey. Of the 82 respondents to the survey, the most represented specialties were GI & Endoscopy (24%) and Orthopedics (24%), followed by Pain Medicine (8%), Anesthesia (7%), Ophthalmology (6%), Urology (5%), Plastic Surgery (3%) and Neurosurgery (3%). Twenty percent of respondents identified as “other.” Fifty-five percent of respondents were part of practices with 1-5 physicians; 16 percent were part of practices with 6-10 physicians; 10 percent were part of practices with 10-15 physicians; and 19 percent were part of practices with 16 or more physicians. The most represented states in the survey were Washington (13%), Texas (9%), New York (7%) and Florida (7%).

Link to survey: http://www.procaresystems.com/documents/2015%20Independent%20Physician%20Outlook%20Survey%20FINAL.PDF

About ProCare Systems
An innovator in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment, ProCare Systems provides healthcare institutions and physician practices with the strategies, systems and tools they need to increase productivity, reduce expenses and maximize organizational value. The company has been involved in practice development, practice management and medical research for 20 years. ProCare is also responsible for the creation of the PRISM™ Care Management System, a unique digital toolbox that gathers clinical data from patients, and uses it to assess disease risk, inform clinical decision making and track outcomes through the course of treatment. The PRISM™ system is the outgrowth of ProCare’s clinical outcomes research which has been underway since 1996. For more information, visit http://www.procaresystems.com.

ProCare Systems
61 Commerce Ave SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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Jessica McNellis
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