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What is an Independent Physician Association (IPA)?

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Independent physicians who want to focus more on the care of their patients sometimes feel challenged with the need to keep up with compliance regulations, administrative contracts, and other overhead issues related to their practice management. An independent physician association (IPA) may be able to help by reducing or eliminating some of those headaches.

Independent physician associations (IPAs) are on the rise. Essentially, an IPA is a business entity, owned by a network of independent physicians. IPAs vary in their purpose and activities, depending on the area of the country in which they are located.

What do small and solo practice physicians need to know about them?

Joining an IPA does not mean you are losing your independence. An IPA does, however, offer you the benefit of being part of a larger group, primarily for the purposes of contracting with third parties, for pursuing business ventures, and for reducing overhead costs.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), recognizing that there are benefits as well as risks involved with participating in an IPA, has established a list of Guiding Principles for IPAs. In part, the principles state that the IPA should “promote efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of health care to patients that produces value.” This guideline aligns with your focus as an independent physician and with Elation’s philosophy to improve the quality of patient care while being more productive and more effective.

An IPA can be a useful tool for practice management for an independent physician. As the AAFP warns, though, there are some risks involved. When you are considering an IPA, be sure to have your attorney review all documents related to the organization. AAFP advises, in particular, that risks might involve “conflicts of interest for the physician between financial gain and optimal care for the patient.”

Another guiding principle for IPAs, according to the AAFP, is that “effective management of relationships between primary care physicians, limited specialists, and hospitals is critical to the optimal care of patients….” Elation is also focused on helping you, as an independent physician, to optimize those relationships with patients and with other physicians. Check out our solutions that can help you provide the highest quality care possible!