Many independent practices are fighting an uphill battle against the economic pressures of COVID-19. The sudden financial losses and declining patient volumes brought on by the pandemic have placed independent practices in the danger zone — and more likely to be bought up by larger systems.
In a recent RevCycleIntelligence article, president and CEO of Vera Whole Health Ryan Schmid outlined how the pandemic has proved the effectiveness of a value-based model over the traditional fee-for-service approach.
Here are four key takeaways from the article that demonstrate how value-based care can help independent practices stay independent:
1. Value-based care doesn’t depend on high volume
Schmid explained how Vera’s model for advanced primary care leverages value-based contracts rather than traditional fee-for-service contracts that profit from high volumes of in-person appointments. While many practices built on fee-for-service are reeling from a steep decline in patient volumes during COVID-19, a value-based model doesn’t suffer the same disruption.
2. Value-based care leverages an alternative reimbursement model
Alternative reimbursement models give providers the ability to adapt quickly and deliver the care that their patients need. With at-risk payment models like capitation, providers don’t need to maintain a constant high volume of services rendered. Value-based contracts also allow providers to respond to new patient demands and preferences even when payers are not yet reimbursing for those new services.
3. Value-based care is in a better position to pivot
A value-based model is better able to respond during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic with new services: think virtual care, mental health, and behavioral health. Since these services have been historically under-reimbursed by payers, the cost of adding them can be prohibitive for fee-for-service providers. But value-based contracts can help practices add a new service line and generate value from it right away. Practices following a value-based model have been more successful in offering timely services like triage call centers and remote monitoring of patients.
4. Value-based care brings new opportunities for investment
Independent practices considering the transition to value-based contracts can receive help from independent practice associations, accountable care organizations, and other group-based models that have already been set up in most markets. Independent practices can work together to negotiate better value-based contracts with payers.
For practices interested in value-based contracting, there are many considerations to keep in mind. Practices will need to control downstream spend, understand patient behavior to improve care delivery, and identify potential gaps in care. But a value-based approach to primary care offers a welcome alternative to the financial and operational challenges of the fee-for-service model.