I met with a large group of unaffiliated physicians last night who were worried about how to survive in this era of tightened budgets and schizophrenic healthcare reform. They had decided to form a large multi-specialty group, and be their own ACO, in the hope of controlling their care of their patients.
It is necessary for physicians to come together to form new delivery systems for patient care. It is exciting. It is also scary. Healthcare is not for sissies.
Physicians have an opportunity that will not last long to retake the healthcare delivery system for their benefit and for the benefit of their patients.
We all know that patients want physicians who care about them and will take care of them. Economics are important, but no one wants his or her healthcare to be so managed and so strained through insurance company and regulatory filters that it looks like the only thing that matters are the economics.
The heartbreak for so many physicians is that they cannot do what they went to med school to do — take care of people. Physicians have been forced to deliver the minimum amount of care, in the shortest time, to the maximum number of patients. The comfort of a trusted physician is what patients want.
ACOs may provide the mechanism by which physicians can reclaim the practice of medicine as a calling. Or, they can let the actuaries, accountants, and lawyers make the important decisions about healthcare.
Being proactive, being smart, and being cautious are critical to suviving as an independent healthcare provider.