Advice for Solo and Small Practices in the Evolving Health Care Landscape

Susan Turney, MD, CEO of MGMA-ACMPE

We spoke with Dr. Turney about solo and small practices—their challenges, their place in the medical community, and what they might do to evolve and sustain their practices.

PI: Given significant, ongoing change, does medicine still have a role for solo and small practices?

ST: Yes, there are benefits to any model of care. There are variations across the country. Care is local, and one size does not fit all. I believe there is room for everybody, and ignoring the important role solo or small practices serve will only hurt the system. One challenge for these smaller practices is to evolve and meet the demands of a new and upcoming care model, which requires investment and maybe a new way of thinking about their practice.

PI: What is central to the survival of solo and small practices today?

ST: Understand the foundation and capacity of your practice. If it includes both doctors and a practice executive, work hand in glove to evaluate what works and what does not. It is crucial to have the right resources, staff, infrastructure, and IT to accomplish your goals. It requires a team approach.

PI: Once they understand their practice capacity, what can they do about it?

ST: You can increase your capacity by building a team of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Then, strive to meet your patients’ needs by going over practice walls into the community to tap into and utilize a diverse sphere of available resources—home health, urgent care, hospitalists, nursing home facilities, and family support. Put your feet on the street—discover and use best practices, and share outcomes and knowledge with peers.

PI: Does your organization help practice executives and doctors meet today’s demands?

Yes. MGMA helps members navigate change. Informed by professionals in the field, we develop and provide a tool chest of best practices to help them navigate challenges such as risk assessment compliance mandates and IT matters.

PI: You have been in the field for a long time. Is this the most challenging era you remember?

ST: Health care delivery has always been challenging; as an industry, we have been going through transformation for decades. The pressures of current technologies and regulatory issues are newer, including the problems created by overlapping, nonstandard mandates. However, I wake up every morning feeling optimistic. I think the challenges the medical world is facing can and will inspire great innovation.