Despite all the attention focused on consolidation trends in our industry in recent years, private practice is still a much better fit for many physicians than employment in a large network or hospital system. What’s more, patients may also find that large integrated systems just aren’t as appealing, even though they may offer more convenience. Some patients will never want to do without the feeling of personal connection that can only be found in a smaller, private practice. And some nurses, MAs, and office staff want that personal connection to their jobs, too. All of these things help keep private practice options in demand, even as the drivers of consolidation keep pushing ahead.
Merely surviving is obviously not the goal, though – physician owners and their teams want their practices to thrive! Employees and patients alike also need their practices to be strong. And the good news is, despite the hype about ongoing consolidation, there are other trends that can help independent practices stay healthy and profitable.
Chief among them: technology improvements. Over the past few years, we’ve seen continuing improvement in front office technology in particular. Some of the earlier practice management technologies, like electronic eligibility checking, have gotten better. Newer platforms like telemedicine that can expand the practice business model are coming into their own. Even reputation management is getting easier, thanks to learning and innovation in the market.
Being open and adept at using technology is one way that practices can give be efficient enough to keep pace with larger organizations, while continuing to offer the more personal type of service that gives them a competitive advantage.
Workflow, supported by technology and executed and enhanced by your skilled team, determines your practice’s productivity. Streamlined processes also make life easier for employees and patients alike. Continuously learning how to improve workflow through better use of technology and people is a must for any healthcare organization that wants to compete effectively. But smaller practices may be able to gain even more from thinking about these levers of productivity, because they can make improvements that matter to patients more quickly. Nimbleness is a key small practice advantage – how will you put it to work for yours?
I’ll be sharing more ideas for how independent practices can improve their efficiency and profitability by looking more closely at their practice workflow, technology, and staffing in my upcoming webinar, “The Three Keys to Thriving as an Independent Practice,” on Feb 22 at 10 AM PT. Register now.