The physician landscape is more complex than ever, with more partners and models of partnership available. The traditional, binary option of independent shareholder or health system employee is long gone. Even true independent groups don't look like they once did, adapting in ways like receiving funding from a range of investors or adding more employed physicians. Physician groups can now partner with national medical groups, non-equity partners, private equity, health plans, and more.
In particular, private equity is gaining traction as a physician group partner—typically in the consolidation of specialty practices (usually at the national level) or value-based care investments in primary care practices. In return, physician groups get the capital they need to make investments—investments that in theory drive profits for both the physician shareholders and the PE investors.
Additionally, health plans are increasingly adopting a range of strategies to develop their physician strategy and maintain their existing networks. And even cases where plans aren't funding entities themselves, they're thinking of new ways to work with the growing range of physician groups. We predict health plans will move away from a uniform approach to physician practice partnership and towards more multifaceted approaches to appeal to a wide range of providers.
Impact on life sciences
As the independent physician practice landscape evolves, life sciences leaders need to understand the partnership dynamics in their markets. How a practice is owned, funded, and operated can have significant impacts on how clinicians in the practice make clinical decisions, develop formularies and guidelines, use products, manage spend, and deliver care. While increased investments can expand a practices’ opportunities for treatment or product utilization, these new funding models may also put increased pressure on physicians to reign in medical spend and more closely stick to clinical guidelines and pathways that focus on reducing total costs of care.
Understanding how these different stakeholders interact with each other can also provide critical insight into who holds decision-making power in different markets. In the complex physician landscape, life sciences leaders cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to customer engagement. They must identify where and how their customers operate amidst varying funding and ownership models, and tailor their value messaging and engagements accordingly.
Questions to consider
- Are physician groups in our markets entering into new partnerships and/or transforming their ownership structures? If so, how might that impact their clinical autonomy and/or freedom over product use?
- Are we adapting the way in which we interact with physician groups to recognize changes in ownership structures and/or levels of physician autonomy and decision-making power?
- Are we expanding our customer engagement strategies to reach a more diverse set of physician groups and practices? What new types of physician groups should we engage to advance our organization's goals and target new HCPs?
- Have we adjusted our organizations’ value proposition, evidence, or messaging for each of the physician archetypes we engage?
- Who has the ultimate decision-making power at these different types of organizations? Who are the key stakeholders? Are we engaging the right product gatekeepers?
- How might funding sources influence how physician groups (and HCPs within them) make decisions about clinical care and product use?
- How are we communicating how our products, clinical evidence, and wraparound support services, can make our customers’ practice a more valuable business to external stakeholders that offer funding?