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What makes for a winning Independent Practice Association (IPA)?

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Independent physicians searching for options that can help relieve their administrative burdens, provide more opportunities for contract negotiations, yet still ensure that they retain their independence may consider forming or joining an independent physician association (IPA). The IPA is a separate business entity that gives its members some of the benefits of a larger organization while they maintain their independent status.

A winning IPA has many facets. As Medical Economics points out, an IPA that is “structured as a risk-bearing entity can be especially useful to physicians who may want to participate in risk contracts but don’t have the time or administrative support to hammer out the many details required for such arrangements.”

Independent physicians benefit from being part of an IPA that takes on such risk-bearing activities while still allowing the physicians to manage their own practices. The IPA is the legal entity that can negotiate contracts as well as “participate in quality programs that reward improved outcomes that are often not otherwise available to the independent or solo practitioner.”

An IPA that is properly structured and managed, often by a separate CEO, encourages communication and coordination among its members. Resource sharing is a major aspect of a winning IPA, which can also “serve as the information technology platform for all automation, often offering the capability of connecting disparate EHR technology.”

Successful IPAs, much like any other business entities, are those that control their growth and employ sound management practices. An IPA is a legal structure and participating independent physicians should ensure that they are following all appropriate regulations for their participation as well as for the IPA as a whole. Professional legal counsel is encouraged.

A winning IPA provides the benefits that independent physicians need to retain their individual practices, focus on their patients’ healthcare outcomes, and move their practices forward in regard to successful negotiations and administrative functions.