Barbara McAneny: To survive these pressures in the marketplace, we need to be able to educate our patients, the public and employers about where costs originate and the differences between sites of care. For example, if a patient receives care at a hospital, they may pay more than double the cost they would pay for care provided in the community setting. This comes as a shock to many people and there is a lack of understanding.
As community practices, we need to ensure payers understand the impact of the physician fee schedule. Sharing savings is critical to maintaining the viability of independent practices. Over the last 15 years, hospitals have seen a market basket index increase of nearly 50 percent. However, the physician fee schedule has only increased six percent.
Individual practices should band together with other like-minded clinics that are facing similar challenges. Consider forming a clinically integrated network with other independent practices in your local community to approach payers and contract together.
There’s only so much you can do in your own market. Some issues are national and can’t be solved at the local level. For example, 340B hospitals purchase the most expensive supply at a significant discount and that is a competitive advantage. An issue of that magnitude needs national advocacy. Overall, it’s not sufficient to sit in your own practice and bemoan these challenges. I encourage practices to take a more active role and get involved.
Another important area to understand is your referral base. Figure out who is referring patients to you and how you can help to solve the challenges they have. Make it easy for your referring physicians to send patients to you and give other sites of care confidence that the patient will be well taken care of.