Hope for the Independent Physician
In our last blog, we discussed the struggles facing independent physicians, as well as the trend of doctors moving away from private practice and towards larger hospital or medical group employment. We believe, however, that independent physicians can still succeed in the modern business world. For those who are adaptable, ambitious and entrepreneurial, being an independent physician can actually be quite rewarding and liberating.
An independent physician and practice owner is essentially running a small business. You need to manage employees, accounting, billing and insurance, plus all of the little office details. Being at the helm means there is likely more work and more stress, but it also means that you are in control! Unlike in traditional hospital setting, you are not beholden to an employer or corporation whose bottom-line is focused on quotas and patient throughput. You can customize your care, refer your patients to trusted specialists, and guide them through the medical process to ensure they receive the highest quality care. You get to take charge and make changes, whether that be purchasing a new EHR that works for you, or restructuring your patient payment plans.
We support those who seek these kind of freedoms, and who really put their heart into the work; thus we’d like to offer some advice to help your business (and patients) thrive!
First, it’s important to recognize the importance of your brand and reputation. Traditionally, an independent physician would market his or herself through word of mouth, referrals and involvement in the community. These approaches are still valid and should not be overlooked, but keep in mind that technology has changed the way many interact with and experience the world. Specifically, your image on the internet particularly important nowadays. Did you know that 72% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, according to a Software Advice survey?  A strong online presence can really influence your community’s perception of you and your practice. Make yourself visible, have a quality website, and positively engage your reviewers. If technology isn’t your thing, don’t worry. There are many medical practice marketing specialists out there that can help you with your website, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and reputation management.
Second, take some time to reconsider your business model. Wrestling with insurance companies and ensuring cash flow can be challenging, but many independent doctors are experimenting with new approaches. Outsourced billing assistance and specialized software systems can cut-down on in-office workflow bottlenecks. Using technological enablements like check-in kiosks and appointment reminders improve the patient experience and engagement with the practice. Direct Primary Care may avoid insurer complexities and provide better preventative care to your patients. A Concierge model may provide a more steady income for your practice through subscription-based payments. What works best for you will depend heavily on environmental and situational factors, but remember that you are independent and have the freedom to adjust your businesses direction (unlike your hospital-employed counterparts).
And most importantly, don’t forget that time is your most important resource. Your ambition is one of your best qualities, but don’t get bogged down trying to manage all of these details by yourself. Your time is best spent focusing on quality care of your patients. Trust the professionals in marketing and business development and seek out their help! You may not be an expert web developer, but you can outsource that work and have a better website in less time.
If you’d like to learn more, please download our complete guide
or reach out to WRS Health to speak to one of our specialists.