It’s no secret that in the drive to embrace Accountable Care, ambulatory practice acquisition and integration is one of the biggest trends facing healthcare provider networks today.
Prior to the implementation of an acquisition / integration strategy, there are three steps that should be taken to ensure that real-time data about the patients you serve and the markets in which you operate is part of the decision-making process. While most healthcare organizations have access to a majority of the necessary raw data inputs through EMR implementation, a model or methodology for interpreting that data and shaping it into a meaningful action plan is lacking.
1. Define The Status Quo.
Your acquisition strategy should begin with a thorough examination of exactly where your organization is today from a patient panel perspective. Who are your patients, demographically, psychographically, financially and behaviorally speaking? Where do they live and work, and from what geographies are they coming to visit your physicians and facilities? These learnings lend themselves to development of a “profile” that will serve as a foundational benchmark for who you serve today, and what that means going forward in terms of new patient acquisition.
By developing requisite profiles (family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, etc), analytical tools can be used to find those geographic areas that represent the greatest upside opportunity for your organization.
2. Examine The Acquisition Target Landscape.
Within your market area, there may be dozens (if not hundreds) of practices that can be approached for potential acquisition – assuming they have not approached you already. From that potential universe, it is likely that only a subset of physician practices will provide significant value-add to your existing network.
In addition to traditional due diligence on the financial and operational makeup of potential targets, utilization of learnings from your profile work will be beneficial in easily identifying those geographies that represent “pockets of opportunity” for expansion of your footprint – and those practices that are proximate to (if not already located within) them.
3. Optimize The Market By Identifying Potential Value.
Marrying profile learnings with market data enables organizations to implement statistical models that can forecast volume potential for both existing practices and potential acquisition targets. These models uncover “opportunity gaps” that exist between how a targeted practice is currently performing relative to its true potential. Closer examination will then yield numerous potential causes for the gap: Are they understaffed relative to trade area demand? Are they marketing themselves effectively to drive the patient volume they should be experiencing? Are there operational issues that require closer scrutiny and examination?
These three areas – knowing the profile of your patients, understanding the entirety of the practice acquisition landscape, and leveraging statistical models to optimize potential – are integral components of an effective acquisition strategy. The more that you are able to leverage existing patient and encounter data that is at your disposal, the more successful you will be at building an ambulatory network that efficiently extends your reach.