Private practices have a range of considerations to make when deciding whether or not to consolidate with a large hospital. Although hospitals can often be more expensive for patients as well as insurers and physicians, small practices have their own unique maintenance challenges. Possible alternatives to merging with hospitals, such as group practices or joining Independent Practice Associations (IPAs), should be reviewed thoroughly before deciding. Whether a private practice decides to remain independent, collaborate with other practices, or join up with a large hospital, interoperable EHR software helps to resolve the challenges faced by healthcare providers.
Shifting Structures within the Healthcare Industry
When any industry is concentrated into specific geographical areas, further consolidation leads to higher costs, which is what we’re seeing with the current status of many healthcare facilities. As hospitals continue to buy out private practices, healthcare-related expenditures likely will rise for patients, insurance companies, and providers alike.
Service fees at hospitals can be as much as 80% higher than those of physicians working at private practices. For those patients paying out of pocket, this is a dramatic increase, and for insured patients, this can lead to higher premiums or deductibles. If the insurance companies are paying the majority of these costs then they have to bear the brunt of healthcare expenses and therefore have to compensate for their losses.
This puts hospital-employed practitioners in a difficult position as well. They’re potentially losing a cut of their income, earning only their fixed salary while the hospitals receive the rest of the revenue. Though private practices have their set of own responsibilities, such as overhead fees, EHR implementation, and maintenance of the business, they ultimately sustain reasonable healthcare costs for all those involved.
One possible solution to the rising costs would involve increased collaboration among private practice physicians rather than merging with hospitals. Group practices allow physicians to work together towards the common goal of the most efficient and successful healthcare. This integration provides independence as well as a source of professional support. IPAs are another option for preserving small practices since they can assume more financial risk as a group than the individual practices are capable of. They can aid in areas such as insurance contracts and EHR implementation to relieve physicians of these key challenges.
EHR and Practice Management Software in Private Practices and Hospitals
For private practices as well as hospitals, EHR software helps to store and capture patient data quickly, securely and intuitively, and Practice Management software facilitate easier, more efficient billing. These types of software also enable you to charge the appropriate level of service based on your encounter, and encounters can be quickly converted into billable claims for fast reimbursements.
Physicians are seeing unique challenges as hospitals continue to consolidate geographically through the buying of private practices. Group practices and the formation of IPAs are viable options for smaller practices to remain independent as an alternative to consolidating with large hospitals. For private practices as well as large hospitals, an EHR helps increase efficiency in terms of data capture, storage, accessibility, and billing, which in the end results in the best healthcare for the patient.