Physicians not affiliated with hospitals are increasingly turning to consulting firms to help them move into value-based care and accountable care organizations (ACOs), according to a new Black Book Research report.
A survey of nearly 900 physician organizations showed that 68% of group practices of 10 or more doctors said they will seek “external advisement on financially and clinically transforming their operations” within the next year.
The report also found physicians are moving more toward independent and physician-led group practices after a six-year trend of hospital-employed physicians. Independent and physician-led group practices increased to 72% of respondents in 2017.
The value movement is picking up steam, but it’s clear many physician groups haven’t fully embraced the change and don’t feel comfortable doing it themselves. They have been frustrated by MACRA requirements and the associated investments needed to comply. One common complaint is that MACRA is overly-burdensome for smaller practices.
CMS eased some of those burdens, but still plans to implement MACRA in 2019. CMS also decided not to require smaller practices to take part in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, but large systems have voiced similar concerns about MACRA’s demands.
Doug Brown, founder of Black Book Research, said physicians not affiliated with hospitals do see the long-term savings in physician-led ACOs as healthcare focuses more on population health, value-based care and care coordination.
But many physician organizations don’t have well-defined plans for alternative payment models or for reaching date-sensitive financial thresholds, he added. So, they are turning to value-based care consultants for help.
Black Book reported that 93% of respondents said they have no internal experts to help with a strategic plan to transform population health management or value-based care solutions. Fewer than 7% said they’ve started consulting value-based care software vendors and need help from consultants. Nearly all practices surveyed also said they don’t have IT or staff in-house to help move toward newer reimbursement models.
“Physician groups are seeking advisors to help them transition to value-based care and manage long-term health plans for patients in multi-payer environments,” Brown said. “Consultative approaches that emphasize physician engagement, culture change, actionable data and analytics are producing some very prepared and motivated physician organizations as they move from volume to value.”