3 opportunities to grow your practice

June 24, 2014

The introduction of the Affordable Care Act coupled with a host of assorted marketplace dynamics is causing physicians to think anew regarding how to build a practice that is not only sustainable in the near term but will maximize its growth potential over time.

 

The introduction of the Affordable Care Act coupled with a host of assorted marketplace dynamics is causing physicians to think anew regarding how to build a practice that is not only sustainable in the near term but will maximize its growth potential over time.

Physicians need to position themselves in a population health management marketplace where strategic affiliations, the ability to differentiate, and a value-driven (rather than volume-driven) philosophy comprise a winning formula. The reality is that healthcare dollars are going to keep diminishing. Only through a smart growth strategy and careful planning can physicians succeed in a marketplace that is increasingly challenging, complex, and confusing. Here are three opportunities for growth physicians can’t overlook.

Get bigger

One look at the medical marketplace makes it clear that unmistakable trends are occurring relative to size.

Independent Physicians Associations (IPAs) are acquiring other IPAs, and large groups are getting larger and stronger. But beyond simply banding together, there are new dynamics taking place relative to physician-hospital relationships.

First, many physicians are joining hospital-owned practices. Physicians find such arrangements attractive because they can provide stability, guaranteed income, and a more balanced lifestyle.

Second, physician networks are partnering with local hospitals and attempting to control the healthcare dollar by limiting or eliminating the insurance company and taking on the risk of managing the care of a defined population.

Physicians participating in such an arrangement are willing to put their compensation at risk in a true pay-for-performance model based on quality, customer satisfaction, and other measurable metrics. Physicians need to consider if they are ready for the benefits or potential drawbacks that such bold arrangements might bring.

Embrace technology

The smart use of technology increases productivity, improves cash flow, and provides office efficiencies that can enhance a practice’s growth potential.

Concerns regarding cost, complexity, and customization still stand in the way. They shouldn’t. Affordable systems are available even to the solo practice that take the hassle out of automation. It is time for physicians to embrace electronic health records, welcome clinical messaging, use a web-based clearinghouse, and interact online with patients.

Begin marketing

While there are many tools in a marketing tool box, two are particularly worth noting.

The first is traditional public relations, which combines high credibility with a relatively low cost. Resources put into public relations-such as using the local media to tell your story, speaking at appropriate community events, or leveraging hospital relationships-can help build your brand, raise your visibility, and position your practice favorably. 

Developing an online strategy that allows you to push messages directly to your patients through a website, social media, and other platforms, is the second. It’s about inviting two-way communication that allows patients to communicate with you through whichever medium they feel most comfortable. It’s all about the patient experience, which means interactions before, during and after an office visit. 

 

Phil Dalton is president and chief executive officer of MDS Consulting, in Torrance and Costa Mesa, California. Send your practice management questions to medec@advanstar.com.