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'Superpractices' are driving physician realignment. Here’s how to spot one.

By Prianca PaiSara Zargham

August 22, 2022

    Let me introduce a new term to your lexicon: superpractice.

    Superpractices are a new breed of physician groups that result from partnerships or aggregation of physician practices. They tend to be backed by a strategic capital partner and offer physicians new types of employment and partnership options without hospital involvement.

    These well-resourced players are diverse—ranging in funders, payment models, and types of patients they specialize in. But in aggregate, they are positioned to shift market dynamics and threaten hospital-centered care delivery. Here are some key markers of a superpractice.

    How to spot a 'superpractice'

    1. They strive to right-size hospital care but are not opposed to working with health systems.

    Let's be clear: superpractices often steer patient flow away from the hospital. That's because superpractices tend to concentrate in payment models that incentivize reduced hospitalizations.  They are increasingly forging partnerships with stakeholders who share this goal such as employers and plans.

    But many superpractices still partner with health systems. Some, including Privia, One Medical, and ChenMed, partner with systems in specific markets to improve care coordination, escalate referrals to specialty care, and/or perform under risk.

    2. They aim to attract physicians with new models of corporate integration and practice autonomy.

    Superpractices aim to be the physician partner of choice in a given market. They adapt their strategies and assert themselves in different ways depending on the market. We've seen superpractices operate as service partners, coalitions, aggregators, and national chains.

    In the graphic below, the models on the left aim to bring practices together to reap the benefits of scale while allowing for autonomy at the individual practice level. The models on the right allow for less autonomy and build toward a single practice model.

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    3. They often start with hyperspecializing in a core payment model or specialty.

    Superpractices typically start by concentrating on a specialty or core payment model to increase the efficiency and success of their business operations. This hyper-specialization has translated to more consumer-centered care delivery for patients such as more personalized cancer care with One Oncology, on-demand primary care for millennials with One Medical, or concierge senior care with ChenMed. These investments in longitudinal patient management allow superpractices to have a greater say in patient decision making.

    That said, superpractices have ambitions to expand across payment models and patient groups to grow revenue and expand across markets. For example, Aledade started with MSSP before expanding to Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and commercial contracts. And, One Medical, who focused on adult primary care, acquired Iora, a senior care provider, last year.

    4. They standardize practice responsibilities to make physicians' jobs easier.

    Superpractices provide physicians with standardized capabilities that can include technology, analytics, clinical protocols, and care pathways. These capabilities equip physicians with the tools to maximize their productivity and payment, while also improving their day-to-day. For example, Aledade and Privia provide data and technology capabilities for primary care physicians to prioritize outreach, track patient care, and bill more effectively.  

    So far, such players have demonstrated good resource investment around standardizing care and successfully supporting physicians with treatment planning. These services have been key to superpractices' regional growth, and most share a larger ambition to become national players.

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    Our team has spent a lot of time segmenting and categorizing this diverse group, but we'd be remiss not to acknowledge the aggregate impact 'superpractices' have on the market. We'll explore this further in our next blog.

    We've been defining the independent physician landscape wrong—here's a new approach

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    Historically, the physician landscape has been divided into the hospital-employed and the independent. But over time, the "independent" segment has become more complex and inclusive of more types of groups who don't fit the traditional definition of shareholder-owned and shareholder-governed.

    Advisory Board's Sarah Hostetter and Prianca Pai provide a more nuanced way to approach a diversified market.

    Read more

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