Report: Independent practices putting emphasis on delivering care

With the hardship of the early days of COVID-19 behind them, independent practices are looking to define themselves for the future.

While the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic saw independent practices scrambling just to survive, now these same practices are rededicating themselves to what’s important.

The State of the Independent Practice report from medical software company Kareo gathered survey responses from 1,300 independent practices across 50 specialties. The results give a look at how the attitudes of independent practices have changed during the pandemic.

Information on the impact of the pandemic on independent practices can be found here.

What’s important

Of the respondents, 71 percent say that improving delivery of care was extremely important to their practice, up from 50 percent in 2019. Other important initiatives include insurance reimbursements (58 percent), patient engagement (52 percent), practice growth (50 percent), and patient collections (48 percent). All of these initiatives increased in importance since 2019.

When it comes to delivering care, 58 percent of respondents say that security and compliance are important. Meanwhile, 55 percent cited streamlining their care delivery workflow to allow them more time to spend in their EHR as important, with 51 percent citing point of care documentation, and 46 percent say that improving diagnosis and reducing diagnostic error as being important to their practice.

The largest rise between 2019 and 2021 when it comes to the important initiatives for independent practices was using telehealth. This saw a 22 percent rise to 43 percent in the two-year period.

Technology and patient experience

As patients and practices come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, many independent practices are starting to look at their patients more as consumers. As such, they are looking to use technology to embrace the change.

Between 2019 and 2021, the only initiative aimed at helping practices address the challenges facing them which more respondents found important was the need for integrated technology solutions which rose 5 percent. Some of the initiatives the respondents think will be important in patient engagement are efficient two way communication (58 percent), scheduling appointments (57 percent), patient retention (56 percent), and reducing patient no-shows (54 percent). More respondents found all these initiatives to be important than they did in 2019.

More than two-thirds, 69 percent, of respondents say that physician willingness to actively listen is an important to providing care to patients. Other actions cited as important by the respondents include: the patient’s sense of contribution (63 percent), physician encouragement of patient involvement (61 percent) and the patient’s belief in a mutually produced outcome (59 percent).