IPA Consulting & Marketing

Physicians and physician groups that intend to remain independent need Independent Physician Associations more than ever. But the IPAs also need to provide more services and value to their members beyond their primary historical value of the as a contracting agent with payers.

IPAs that function primarily in the same way today as they did ten years ago face common challenges that limit their value and relevance to members.

Since most IPAs employ a “messenger model” in contract negotiation with payers (largely to avoid antitrust risk), they often find that the larger physician groups can (or believe they can) achieve as good or better reimbursement through direct contracting with payers.

This limitation results in less membership in IPAs among larger physician groups, leaving the IPA with a rapidly shrinking membership of smaller independent physician practices, resulting in even less negotiating leverage with payers.

IPAs that struggle or fail often display many of these characteristics:

  • Limited infrastructure (including personnel and operating systems)
  • No real business plan to recruit and retain members and add value
  • Minimal financial resources (funded primarily from member dues)
  • Diminishing number of independent physicians and groups
  • No clinical integration among members
  • Anti-trust considerations limiting payer contract negotiations
  • Widely varying and competing agendas and priorities among members

Some IPAs have considered or converted to a Clinically Integrated Network (CIN) business model, often for purposes of direct payer contracting for the entire group of physicians (unlike the messenger model used by many IPAs) with appropriate antitrust safe harbor protections. Additionally, CINs have been established to function as the physician component in the formation and operation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO).

However, an IPA, by design, is based on physicians and practices continuing to operate independently, so the IPAs that remain viable in the future will be those that offer a greater and more diverse value to their members.

Shared Services for IPA Members

Some IPAs contract with Management Services Organizations (MSO) for management and administrative services for their members. The MSO can be a vehicle or conduit for individual or shared services for IPA members. Other IPAs directly negotiate with vendors and make available various shared services for their members at a discounted rate.

Marketing IPA Value to Members

It’s a fact that most IPAs are not effectively marketing their value to members. Sometimes it’s because they don’t offer enough value. However, even IPAs that offer greater and more diverse value to members fall short (or fail entirely) in effectively communicating their value to their members (and prospective members).

Forefront Healthcare Consulting Services for IPAs

Forefront Healthcare Consulting provides guidance and resources to IPAs and to their members in the following categories:

  • Consulting, Vetting and Coordination of Shared Services
  • Marketing for IPAs to their members
  • Marketing for IPA members to patients, referring physicians and employers

Consulting, Vetting and Coordination of Shared Services

Forefront Healthcare Consulting has a strong network of relationships with service providers for physicians and IPAs. Through these relationships, we coordinate and secure better pricing for shared services of value to IPAs and their members than they can negotiate directly with these service providers. Forefront also objectively vets service providers that are not part of its network at request of IPAs, often securing better rates for the IPAs if they prefer to work with those vendors.

Marketing for IPA Members

Forefront Healthcare Consulting offers marketing strategies and marketing implementation services at reduced fees for IPA members.

Services include:

  • Digital Marketing to Attract New Patients
    1. Search advertising (Google, Bing)
    2. Facebook advertising
    3. Social media marketing
    4. Search engine optimization (SEO)
    5. Online reputation management
  • Traditional Media Marketing to Attract New Patients
    1. TV
    2. Radio
    3. Outdoor (billboards, etc.)
    4. Print
    5. Direct Mail
  • Marketing to Referring Physicians
  • Marketing to Established Patients
  • Patient Experience Coaching, Training, Systems
  • Patient Engagement Coaching, Training, Systems
  • Marketing to Employers

Shared Service categories include:

  • Revenue Cycle Management (billing and collections)
  • Information Technology
  • Telehealth
  • EHR
  • Data analytics
  • Practice marketing services
  • Care management support
  • Pharmacy services
  • Visiting home nurses
  • Diabetes educators
  • Group Purchasing Organizations
  • Malpractice insurance
  • Lab Services

Contact Forefront Healthcare Consulting for a no-charge evaluation of your IPA and discussion of Forefront services for IPAs and members.