Frequently asked questions about independent practice associations

An independent practice association (IPA) is a separate business entity owned by a group of physicians. The number of IPAs, which have varying purposes and goals, is increasing across the country. As an independent physician, you may have a number of questions about IPAs and how they might be able to benefit you.

Q: What are the benefits of joining an IPA?

A: An IPA can provide the benefits of a larger group, while allowing you to retain your independence. For example, as an article by the Wyoming Medical Society points out, one significant benefit is the IPA’s ability to negotiate “on better pricing on everything from common supplies and services, to systems which aggregate health records and drive improvement, to reimbursement for the services the IPA provides.”

In addition, overseeing and managing issues such as security compliance for EHR for an independent physician association is much more cost effective and efficient as well. The IPA, as a separate, larger entity, is able to reduce or virtually eliminate some redundant expenses for its members.

Q: Will I lose my independence if I join an IPA?

A: You will absolutely retain your independence as a practice when you join an IPA. The organization does not own any part of your practice. In fact, when you are part of an IPA, you are better able to focus on the core business of your practice – providing quality care to your patients – and on your practice management.

Q: Does an IPA help alleviate the isolation I sometimes feel as an independent physician?

A: As an independent physician, you need to connect and communicate with other providers, while retaining your independent practice. An IPA does provide that opportunity to share common experiences and to leverage shared data to improve patient care, especially when taking advantage of the benefits of EHR for an independent physician association.

Q: Should I be concerned about anything in regard to an IPA?

A: Before signing any contract, you should always have your legal counsel review the information. Physicians Practice stresses that a healthcare attorney can help ensure that “Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute issues have been addressed in the contracts.”