The trust between patient and independent physician has long been a cornerstone of the community of care in cities nationwide. The accessibility of this physician and her support staff alike over time in many ways defines the value of the patient experience to the patient. Yet in so many conversations I’ve had with independent physicians, when I ask them about their biggest concern its so often comes back to that big hospital system in their community acquiring practices. It is a concern that has as much to do with the adoption of EHR and other information technologies as it does with the practice itself as a going concern in the coming year.
Recognizing relationships within the community of care is critical in this expanding context of accountability in healthcare. I use the word community not just to represent a city or geographic region, but rather all of that and those relationships with peers and referral partners that have grown over time. Too often the view of competition for the independent physician is quickly defined as that increasingly ominous hospital system in their same zip code. But the more appropriate view is to recognize the reality of that view of competition with regard to a real continuum of care for the patient. The independent physician has never had control of the entire facility and resources of a hospital system, so it is appropriate to recognize the continuum of care for her patient population and how she can participate with her guidance and reputation with the community.
There is so much value in the patient experience with the independent physician, from accessibility to affordability when compared to the hospital experience. What’s more, when the independent physician recognizes the value of the patient experience that she and her fully engaged clinic staff can and have provided for the patient over time, the ominous nature of hospital competition may not seem quite as ominous. This is a time in healthcare when competition and collaboration in healthcare are not mutually exclusive concerns. Recognizing key relationships in a continuum of care is something that is well known within the hospital, which is one reason why those practice acquisitions look so attractive. The trust from the patient often begins in that small clinic with the accessible independent physician.
Some additional reading:
Independent doctors unite to fight national trend toward hospitals buying physician groups: http://bit.ly/11JRer5
How could cost prevent health IT from driving patient engagement: http://bit.ly/UMhhNx