Independent physicians associations (IPAs) enable providers to remain independent in their practices while enjoying the benefits of being a part of a larger business entity. Many independent physicians feel overwhelmed by the burden of administrative duties, particularly in regard to healthcare reporting requirements, as well as the need for more influential bargaining power for contracts. An IPA, operating as a separate entity comprised of multiple independent physicians, may be the answer for those physicians and could actually be revolutionizing the healthcare landscape itself.
A recent article in Innovaccer pointed out that IPAs have “emerged as coordinated care systems that were slightly larger in scale than small/solo practices, but they have gone beyond being a contracting entity and have come on the frontlines as supportive organizations that bring the required infrastructure to small practices so they can be a part of the changing landscape.”
Coordinating care to improve healthcare outcomes is the primary focus of the IPA and of each of the participating independent physicians. Reducing the burdens of individual practice management and increasing the leverage of the independent physician can be significant contributors to improving the healthcare landscape for providers and patients.
The Innovaccer article cited a study that was conducted of over 1,164 practices that consisted of 20 or fewer physicians. The study found that “physicians participating in IPAs provided about three times as many care management services for their patients with more than one chronic conditions as compared to non-participating practices: 10.45% over 3.85%.”
IPAs can also benefit independent physicians by playing a key role in the implementation and optimization of healthcare technology, such as electronic health records, particularly in regard to interoperability factors. Innovaccer cites the fact that many IPAs have “started deploying healthcare IT to improve their performance, facilitate authorizations, network referrals, utilization management, and care management.”