The little business model that could: Smaller practices outlast, relate


There is no refuting a modern truth — practicing medicine is hard work.

Put nearly a decade of endless studying, training and re-training into a consistently heated, pressurized pot and you may come close to what it is that makes a physician. And if said practitioner ventures to establish a practice of his/her own or submits to a more compact institution, an added component of business savvy inevitably seasons the whole experience.

Thus, while being a doctor is demanding across the board, smaller practice participants typically face an added layer of difficulty, at once fighting off disease then a daunting industry stigma — one which argues that the solo doc-shop is past its prime.

Acquisitions are indeed trending. Specialists and primary care facilities are yoking together rather than contemplating professional scramble and for those who are choosing to stick it out, the social/media alienation can be harsher than the fiscal one. But despite all this fatalism swooping about smaller practice entities, perseverance has not waned.

According to the latest installment of the Practice Fusion survey for 2013 (titled the “State of the Small Practice”) 45 percent of doctors have reported improvement in the meager practice sector.  Regarding a class of healthcare workers supposedly on its way out, that stat is nothing to scoff at.

So who’s in the wrong? Are smaller practices only facing extinction in an elaborate marketing ploy encouraged by supporters of bulkier enterprises to garner more manpower? Or are smaller practice physicians perhaps too proud to admit that the boat they’re in is sinking?

If the Practice Fusion report has any say in the matter, the latter assumption is porous at best. And the former seems more subject to paranoia than anything else. What may be best in proceeding then is to take the focus off of certain measures of progress, and focus on a realm that can serve smaller and larger healthcare contributors alike: technological development.

If a new EHR system can help a hospital, it can do the same for a primary care office. “New technology such as EMR systems continued to make medical practice easier for 62.9 percent of doctors, a steady increase from 2012 (61.4 percent) and 2011 (59 percent),” Practice Fusion noted.

Honing in upon these aspects that span across all levels and sizes of care can aid in the creation of new business models and expand on some of the more timeless installments, such individual PCP offices and the like.

If the man in the cart isn’t deceased, there’s no need to pronounce him so, especially when there is more left in him to contribute and he's calling out to you. Monty Python made that mistake; healthcare doesn't have to.