Physician Organizations – IPAs – PHOs Can Improve Care Management For Smaller Practices, New Study Finds

On average, physician practices participating in independent practice associations (IPAs) and physician hospital organizations (PHOs) provided nearly three times as many care management processes for patients with chronic conditions as nonparticipating practices did, the results of a new study found.

The difference is dramatic – 10.45 percent versus 3.85 percent, found the researchers. And, half of these processes were provided only by IPAs or PHOs.

All the recent initiatives surrounding physician practice including pay-for-performance, public reporting, and accountable care organization programs places pressure on physicians to use health information technology and organized care management processes to improve the care they provide.

The problem is physician practices that are not large may lack the resources and size to implement such processes.

The researchers said they used data from a “unique national survey of 1,164 practices with fewer than twenty physicians to provide the first information available on the extent to which IPAs and PHOs might make it possible for these smaller practices to share resources to improve care.”

Nearly a quarter of the practices participated in an IPA or a PHO that accounted for a significant proportion of their patients, the study found.

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IPA-PHO Database – The National Directory of Physician Organizations profiles more than 1,300 physician organizations. Listings include: physician hospital organizations (PHOs), independent practice associations (IPAs), multi-specialty medical groups, physician primary care networks, and management service organizations (MSOs) The National Directory of Physician Organizations

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These organizations may provide a way for small and medium-size practices to systematically improve care and participate in accountable care organizations, said the researchers.

“The data presented suggest that IPAs and PHOs may be able to provide an additional, potentially viable organizational alternative during an era of major changes in how health care is delivered and paid for,” the study authors wrote.

The research team was led by Lawrence P. Casalino, MD. The study results appeared in the August Issue of Health Affairs.

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