Independent Practice Associations And Physician-Hospital Organizations Can Improve Care Management For Smaller Practices

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Pay-for-performance, public reporting, and accountable care organization programs place pressures on physicians to use health information technology and organized care management processes to improve the care they provide. But physician practices that are not large may lack the resources and size to implement such processes.

The researchers used data from a unique national survey of 1,164 practices with fewer than 20 physicians to provide the first information available on the extent to which independent practice associations (IPAs) and physician-hospital organizations (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. On average, practices participating in these organizations provided nearly three times as many care management processes for patients with chronic conditions as nonparticipating practices did (10.4 versus 3.8). Half of these processes were provided only by IPAs or PHOs. These organizations may provide a way for small and medium-size practices to systematically improve care and participate in accountable care organizations.