Thanks to the popularity of high-deductible plans and the increased financial responsibility, patients are becoming more like consumers. If they don’t receive the care that meets expectations, they’re more likely now than ever before to switch providers, as a recent report noted.
This mounting pressure, combined with the transition into value-based care, is weighing on the minds of independent doctors, nudging many to join bigger healthcare systems. They’re often lured by the belief that all they have to do is provide value and quality, and coordinate care smoothly while swimming in a sea of profits and bonuses.
But the honeymoon period of value-based care won’t last forever, if historical carrot-before-stick healthcare regulation cycles are any indication. While value-based care is popular now, physicians are at the high point, compensation-wise. Once insurers realize some of the savings, they may look for ways to cash in, or recoup, physician profits. As a result, bonuses and profits will shrink, reminiscent of a similar situation in the 1980s and 1990s where managed care and capitation stifled a lot of independent practices.
However, the news isn’t all bleak for independent practices or solo docs. The key is to look for new ways to improve care coordination, expand services and potentially offer better payment and care models. [Read more…]