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Four advantages that give provider practices an edge

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For years, the number of private provider practices has been decreasing amid acquisitions by large health systems and private equity firms. At the same time, big tech companies and disruptors entering the medical space have started picking away at market share.

Despite these trends, physicians still own nearly half of all practices in the U.S. While all types of healthcare organizations must evolve to beat the competition, private practices have several benefits that continue to make them an attractive option for patients.

Here are four advantages traditional provider practices have in today’s healthcare landscape that practice owners should lean into.

1. Consistency and care continuity

Service models like on-demand telemedicine are appealing to patients prioritizing speed and convenience. Often, when these services are accessed, a patient is seen by the next available provider. However, there are many circumstances in which consistency outweighs other factors. Patients with chronic illnesses or complex medical conditions, for instance, may fare better if they are seen by providers they already have a relationship with.

On a related note, in hospital settings, inpatient providers may want to contact patients’ primary care providers to ask questions as needed. It can be difficult for the provider in the hospital to know who to reach out to if a patient has only used on-demand medicine applications.

2. A shared community

It is well established that a patient’s health is largely determined by what happens outside the four walls of a hospital or practice. And as value-based care expands, focus on social determinants of health (SDOH) is likely to continue growing. Providers with a brick-and-mortar presence are often the best suited to work with the patient and recommend community-based care options to help fulfill unmet needs. As someone working and/or living in that same community, providers in traditional offices likely have a better grasp on local resources than someone delivering care virtually in another city or state. Understanding that local ecosystem means providers can take a patient’s unique needs and preferences into account to make suggestions, rather than rely on a generic list of resources.

3. Clinical necessity

Patients and providers alike grew more comfortable with telehealth over the course of the pandemic as in-person care was frequently delayed or canceled. And while telemedicine technology has advanced significantly, it is not always clinically appropriate or optimal. Certain specialties, such as obstetrics or dermatology, may necessitate that a provider sees a patient in person so they can perform a thorough exam.

4. Data-sharing capabilities

As healthcare data exchange expands, brick-and-mortar providers may offer patients advantages that geographically dispersed, on-demand options do not. Many health information exchanges (HIEs) serve a specific state or region, so participating practices can more easily send and receive patient records to promote care continuity and prevent duplicative services. When patients opt for online care options, the onus is often on them to aggregate their medical records and ensure the provider seeing them has a complete history available. As anyone with experience in the health IT space knows, this is often easier said than done.

Altera Digital Health understands the present reality for provider practices and what they need to remain independent and successful. Learn how we can support your practice’s financial, operational and clinical goals here.

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