Newsletter – December 2017

Physician Practices: The Future is Changing

John DeLorenzo, MBA, CFO Consulting Partners LLC

The United States possibly has the most complex healthcare system in the world. The American healthcare system regulates the industry at both the federal and state level. It is paid for by private health insurance as well as from the government under its Medicare and Medicaid programs. Healthcare services are provided by the private sector; however, the government also provides services directly through the Veterans Administration. All of this, in a population with disparate levels of wealthy and poor citizens, leads to highly chaotic distribution of care and a complex payment system.
While half of all Americans receive healthcare coverage through their employers, most plans are subject to regulations both federally and at the state level. Those Americans receiving healthcare coverage through Medicare and Medicaid, subject the provider to lower reimbursements. As a result, some providers are less willing to take on Medicare and Medicaid patients, leading to a shortage of providers for that patient base. Patients that are not covered by their employer or a federally provided healthcare program are required to seek private insurance. However, because of the Patient Practice and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), patients are generally provided less options then employer plans, and those options may restrict their choices regarding providers.
Because of a more recent development, a totally different method of reimbursement, from fee for service or volume payments, to outcome based reimbursements or Value Based Care (VBC) is being encouraged by both Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and by private insurers. Essentially, fees for services under VBC are paid based on case outcome and the payment must be shared by all providers in the continuum. VBC reimbursement was originally introduced by the CMS. Both CMS and now private insurers are moving in the direction of value based reimbursement and providing incentives to providers to participate. What is essential to succeed in the VBC method of reimbursement lie in integration of providers and the ability to aggregate data.
Even prior to the movement to VBC, the PPACA is requiring all practitioners to utilize Electronic Medical Records, (EMR) which is costly in both software acquisition as well as implementation. While a burden to small practitioners and groups, EMR will ultimately allow groups to operate, integrate and bill more efficiently.
As new requirements continue to be heaped on single physician practices and small groups, they have been dwindling as more groups consolidate to gain scale and integration. Also, there is a significant trend toward physician groups selling their practices to hospitals as hospitals are a significant cog in the VBC wheel.
Sole practitioners and practice groups need to assess their situations and determine if they are positioned to continue independently or should they align with a network of providers or sell to a larger group or hospital.
Viability in the changing healthcare delivery model for practice groups will require a significant change in how a practice operates, will require investments in information technology, possibly require upgraded staffing as well as the development of relationships with other providers in the continuum.
CFO Consulting Partners healthcare practice is here to help you. We can assist you to access your current situation and help you create and implement a plan forward. We can also assist you should you decide to align with a network or sell or consolidate with another group or hospital.