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10 physician practice trends to watch in 2013

Posted by Aparna Prasad on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:03 AM

To borrow the words of Lou Goodman, president of the nonprofit Physicians Foundation, "2013 will be a watershed year for the U.S. healthcare system." For physician practices, the upcoming New Year will be a pivotal one, in many cases, making the difference between folding and thriving in a post-health-reform world.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 existing trends we predict will affect your practice in 2013 and beyond.

  1. Payment reform

    Most of the United States is in the middle of a difficult transition from still-dominant fee-for-service reimbursement to a variety of emerging value-based payment models. With a cost-containment law passed in 2012, Massachusetts continues to be a state to watch as you evaluate options for your own practice going forward. In addition, the American Medical Association has released ahow-to manual to help physicians understand and negotiate new payment models.

  2. Alternative care models

    According to a report from Accenture, only 36 percent of physicians in the United States will practice independently in 2013. Of this remaining minority, one in three is expected to resort to subscription-based models, such as conciergedirect-pay or online consultations, to sustain profits. Whether these models represent your future or your competition, keep a close eye on such businesses to emulate their strengths and learn from their mistakes. 

  3. Physician employment

    This trend has become so prevalent that the American Medical Association released a set of guidelines designed to protect patient care and physician interests in various employment arrangements. FiercePracticeManagement also spoke to top experts about how physicians can negotiate employment contracts, something they're not typically trained to do. Our sources told us that they would like to see contract negotiation included in medical school curriculum, but for the time being, physicians can look to medical societies and trade publications for help.

  4. Conflicts of interest

    Regardless of when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services begins collecting data related to the Sunshine Act, media reports describing physician ties to pharmaceutical and other industries has drawn patients' attention to potential physician biases and conflicts of interest. And as physicians and patients increasingly interact online, doctors are left to figure out the best way to disclose any conflicts when using social media--a a tricky thing to do in 140 characters or fewer.

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