If you survey any segment of healthcare today, you'll find some uncertainty at every stop due to regulations and reimbursements. The independent physician market is no different -- with most physicians finding themselves at a crossroad about the future, trying to choose the right path to remain not only relevant but clinically and financially successful.

I’ve found in my many years working in this physician space that there’s more than one way to get from point A to point B. What’s important to note is that the market has solutions for any path you decide to take.

Whether you are operating a solo physician practice, mid-sized IPA or large multi-specialty group practice, you got into the business of practicing medicine to manage care, not to manage the cost of care. Technology has opened the door to help you effectively manage patient populations while continuing to deliver a high level of care. Yet, the uncertainty of today means that technology is not enough.

One path to consider is building a physician network that aggregates a number of high-quality physicians to operate their own health system. You may choose to aggregate because you want to be positioned for value-based reimbursement, you want to become an ACO, or you may not know how to manage the cost of care.  Regardless of your reasons, your goal is the same – sustainable financial success. By bringing a common technology platform and utilizing analytics and data, a physician network can drive more effective care at a lower price point.

Consider these critical steps for building physician networks:

  • Start with identifying the primary care leaders within your community that have a common vision of remaining independent. By aggregating these doctors, you can build a financially viable and sustainable organization.
  • Put a governance structure in place to standardize how the group works and operates. By working hand-in-hand with physician leadership, you can begin to build and execute on that strategic plan.
  • Bring in the most state-of- the-art technology solutions to manage the practice. These include practice management and electronic medical records systems.
  • Couple this technology with population health capabilities to better align the risk and rewards to your medical group.
  • Add on revenue cycle services to optimize revenue and mitigate compliance risk.
  • Work with the health plan community to start to take some risk in your contracts.
  • Educate primary care physicians and their practices on how to think about the transformation from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursement.
  • Complement your network of physicians by adding certain specialties to the group and building ancillary service facilities to form your own health system.

Building a well-managed physician network will not only help you drive cost out of the system  -- the goal of value-based transformation -- but it will move you down the path to your goal -- financial success -- by becoming the high performing, low-cost medical group in your community.