Primary care is central to medical group strategy and a crucial entry point for patients into a health system. But as players like Amazon—which is piloting a state-of-the-art employee clinic that may ultimately expand to outside customers—reset market expectations for primary care, medical group leaders will need to think creatively about how to innovate in this space.
In fact, many strategies that were considered innovative just a few years ago, such as expanded appointment availability and centralized scheduling, have become so widely used that they are, in many markets, now simply baseline expectations. To truly be considered state of the art in primary care today, medical group leaders need to push the envelope further. Across Advisory Board research we have seen leading medical groups change the standard for primary care in three ways:
Rethinking growth strategy and access expansion
Instead of thinking about growth in terms of acquiring unaffiliated providers, groups are growing market share by competing on service differentiation. In some markets, this may simply mean offering greater convenience than competitors, while in more advanced markets, groups are differentiating primary care services with innovations such as genomic testing. Groups are also increasingly segmenting patient populations to expand access according to discrete patient needs.
Changing expectations for the care team
For most groups, team-based care is nothing new. But not all groups have fully maximized the use of this asset. To capture greater value from team-based care, medical groups are using advanced practice providers as autonomous providers, upskilling medical assistants for more advanced responsibilities, and including behavioral health and pharmacy service providers to reduce the burden on PCPs and strengthen service provision.
Exploring new ways to enhance provider engagement
Medical groups have traditionally taken the approach of improving "physician wellness" to prevent burnout. Now, groups are finding value in additional strategies that improve physician workflow, such as offering EHR training or support services to relieve documentation burdens and shifting to salary-based compensation models to mitigate the pressure of wRVU production.
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