What does it take to be a successful independent physician in 2018?

As 2017 draws to a close, there is still time for the independent physician to assess practice management strategies and to end the year on a successful note. There have been many changes throughout the year that have affected independent physicians treating Medicare patients as well as those patients with private insurance. There have also been changes in the way patients view their healthcare options. A few steps toward adjusting to those changes will help the independent physician be more successful:

  • Adapting to the Medicare reimbursement shift from “volume to value.” The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) instituted Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which gives the independent physician a choice of payment models — the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or an Alternative Payment Model (APM) – both of which are based on healthcare value. Financial incentives are involved, particularly with the APM path, that can help the independent physician remain solvent.
  • Adding “new capabilities for population health and care management.” Also part of the shift to value-based care, the independent physician who aligns with the need to improve healthcare outcomes for patients in a more efficient manner will have the tools to succeed in 2018.
  • Reassessing the “patient experience from the patients’ perspective.” Patients are becoming less tolerant of long waits, minimal communication with the physician during the visit, and confusing bills. They are increasingly “comparison shopping” to find independent physicians with convenient office hours, multiple communication channels, and the newest technology.

In 2018 and beyond, the successful independent physician will give patients what they want and need in value-based care, convenience, and access. Electronic health records (EHRs) play a key part in being able to provide patients with communication tools and access to their own medical information, encouraging those patients to take an active part in their healthcare decisions. All of these strategies will contribute to higher quality care and to improved outcomes for the independent physician and the patient.