What’s the difference between IPA and a doctor?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Well, let me start by saying that I am a doctor, and I have had personal experience working both as an independent doctor and as part of an IPA. So I can definitely provide some insights into the differences between the two.

Firstly, let’s talk about what an IPA is. An IPA, or Independent Practice Association, is essentially a network of independent doctors who come together to form a group. Each doctor still owns and operates their own practice, but by joining an IPA, they gain certain benefits and support that they might not have as a solo practitioner.

One of the main reasons doctors join an IPA is for the support and resources it provides. Being an independent doctor can be quite challenging, as you have to manage all aspects of your practice, from billing and coding to marketing and patient management. By being part of an IPA, doctors can share resources and expertise, which can help alleviate some of these burdens and allow them to focus more on patient care.

Another benefit of being part of an IPA is the increased negotiating power with insurance companies and other payers. As an independent doctor, it can be difficult to negotiate favorable reimbursement rates and contracts with insurers. However, by joining an IPA, doctors can pool their resources and negotiate as a group, which can lead to better reimbursement rates and more favorable contracts.

Additionally, being part of an IPA can also provide doctors with access to a larger network of specialists and facilities. This is particularly useful when it comes to coordinating care for patients who may require specialized treatments or services. Instead of having to refer patients out of their practice and hope for the best, doctors in an IPA can tap into the network and ensure their patients receive the care they need within the same network.

Now, let’s talk about the difference between an IPA and a solo doctor. As a solo doctor, you have complete autonomy and control over your practice. You make all the decisions, set your own schedule, and have the freedom to practice medicine the way you see fit. However, with this autonomy comes the responsibility of managing all aspects of your practice, which can be time-consuming and overwhelming.

On the other hand, being part of an IPA means you have a support system and access to resources that can help streamline your practice and improve patient care. You have the opportunity to collaborate with other doctors and learn from their experiences. Additionally, being part of an IPA can provide a sense of community and belonging, which can be important for doctors who may feel isolated as solo practitioners.

The main difference between an IPA and a doctor is that an IPA is a network of independent doctors who join together to gain support, resources, and increased negotiating power. While a doctor operates their own practice independently, being part of an IPA can provide additional benefits and a sense of community. It’s ultimately a personal decision for each doctor whether to remain independent or join an IPA, based on their individual needs and preferences.