Small practices are in a really interesting and challenging place right now. Every doctor I know wants to practice medicine in a small practice, but they’re increasingly getting squeezed out of the equation. Most are succumbing to large health systems or migrating to larger group practices that can leverage their power against the larger health system. History shows that this ebbs and flows, but my gut tells me that this time it’s a bit different because of technology.
Without going to deep into the dynamics of small practices, I want to highlight how a unique patient experience is one place where a smaller practice or even group practices can differentiate themselves. At large health systems, there are very different dynamics when it comes to patient experience, but there are also a lot of barriers to creating a great experience for patients. This is where smaller practices should take advantage.
The reality is that small practices have a tremendous opportunity to offer a unique experience because of their lack of scale.
As I’ve seen recently with a company I advise, CareCognitics, there’s a great opportunity with chronic care management to create a unique patient experience. Initially this can be funded with the chronic care management CPT code, but it’s just the start of building the deep relationship with your patients that I’ve written about many times previously.
One doctor I talked to about chronic care management pretty bluntly said “When a patient walks out that door, I’m not going to think about them again until they come back into my office.”
While this hurts to write and even more to say, it’s the reality for most doctors. They don’t have the time to think about all their patients once their out of the office. In fact, with all the reimbusement and regulatory requirements heaped on them, they can barely think about the patient while their in the office (but that’s a story for another day).
We need to shift this paradigm and I think practices that don’t are going to have real issues in the future. Certainly your doctor isn’t going to be thinking about you much outside of the office. However, our systems can think about you all the time. Our health data can be there and available and queue the physician in when there is something that needs addressing. The technology to do this is basically here and ready. What’s holding it back?
The real challenge we face is accepting that these systems won’t be perfect. At Health IT Expo, we had a great discussion about perfect being the enemy to good and that doing nothing can cause a lot of harm. I think this is the route we’re