Is An IPA Right For Me?

To search for an IPA or not to search for an IPA. THAT is a very real question every private practitioner should be considering today.  So many changes in healthcare resulting from healthcare reform, including healthcare exchanges and payment reform, are forcing providers to reconsider the security and financial well being of operating as an independent entity.

Independent practice associations (IPAs), which have represented the interest of physician practices for years, are now in the spotlight again for their role in helping practices join and form collaborative care groups, such as accountable care organizations (ACO), and achieve shared savings and risk management. Questions to consider: 1. So what can an IPA do for my practice? 2. How should my group decide whether to participate in an independent practice association (IPA) or physician-hospital organization (PHO)? 3. How is the organization (IPA/PHO) structured? 4. How will my practice benefit? 5. What about managing capitation? 6. Is the IPA well managed and stable?

Take Shenandoah Independent Practice Association, Inc. (SIPA) as an example.  SIPA was formed in 1994 by a number of well-established, community-based physicians with an intent to provide contractual strength when working with insurance companies. By acting together as a group, SIPA members work more effectively with insurance providers, resulting in a higher level of care for their patients. They have been able to promote and expand independent medical practices to collectively best serve their patients.   With more than 100 primary care physicians and 200 specialists the bring an expanded level of benefits to their patients and they can provide an extensive level of medical services to patients in their area.

While every provider and practice needs to evaluate their own circumstance, it is clear that business-as-usual is a thing of the past. Practices that don’t modify to meet the needs of today’s educated, resourceful patient and the dynamic, changing industry we are part of, will soon find themselves being acquired or closing their doors in what is becoming a very competitive environment.  

Read more about what to consider at these online resources:

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