Independent Physicians Association

The Wyoming Medical Society is exploring the feasibility and interest of Wyoming physicians in an Independent Practice Association (IPA). Below are some key points for Wyoming physicians to consider while gauging their own interest in being a part of an IPA.

Frequently Asked Questions: Independent Practice Association
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The Wyoming Medical Society is exploring the feasibility and interest of Wyoming physicians in an Independent Practice Association (IPA). Below are some key points for Wyoming physicians to consider while gauging their own interest in being a part of an IPA.

Q:  What is an IPA?
A:  An IPA is a group of physicians or practices that integrate their practices either clinically or financially to some degree, to improve their practices’ quality of care and/or efficiency. If the IPA is integrated enough, it can negotiate jointly for its members, such as in purchasing supplies or for higher reimbursement with third party payers.

Q:  What are the advantages to joining an IPA?
A:  The most important function of an IPA is the ability to improve the quality and efficiency of a physician’s practice, which in turn allows the IPA to negotiate for the practice on better pricing on everything from common supplies and services, to systems which aggregate health records and drive improvement, to reimbursement for the services the IPA provides.

In many cases, data the IPA collects on its members’ services can be used to drive negotiations with payers for better reimbursement. Through analysis of this data, the IPA may choose to show payers that IPA members have better outcomes, which are worth the payer reimbursing at higher rates.

Q:  Why is the Medical Society gauging interest in an IPA?

A;  As a non-profit organization, which represents the best interests of the state’s physicians and physician assistants, the Wyoming Medical Society is committed to helping its members improve their practices’ efficiency and quality to better serve patients. Currently, independent physicians lack negotiating power when it comes to things like purchasing supplies, or dealing with payers. By sharing information on best practices for care and treatment of patients, care can be made more effective. That offers payers a better value, which should allow Wyoming physicians the ability to better negotiate with payers.

Q:  Does joining an IPA mean giving up control of the way my practice is currently run?
A:  No. The Wyoming Medical Society has no interest in being a practice manager, nor is it qualified to do so. Member practice will remain independent. The IPA’s members will set its goals; the level of clinical or financial integration required would only be what’s necessary to achieve the IPA’s goals.

Q:  What is the cost of joining an IPA?
There is generally a fee associated with being a member of an IPA, though it is hoped the fees would be paid for from the savings and increased payments negotiated by the IPA. Currently there is no cost estimate for what it would cost to join an IPA developed by the Wyoming Medical Society.

Q:  How many physicians or practices need to commit to an IPA to make the concept financially feasible?
A;  That is not necessarily a specific number but the more members there are, the more effectively the IPA will be able to negotiate with suppliers (improving the member practice’s efficiency) and payers.

Q;  What has happened currently with the Wyoming Medical Society’s IPA efforts?
A; Thus far The Wyoming Medical Society Board of Directors has instructed an Arizona consultant with experience in IPA formation to produce a business plan offering examples for how an IPA could be formed in Wyoming. That document has been delivered to the Wyoming Medical Society.

Q:  What is the next step in the process?
A:  The next step is to ask Wyoming physicians and practices of their interest level in joining an IPA. At this point the Medical Society is asking only if physicians/practices have interest in exploring the concept. By informing the Wyoming Medical Society of your practice’s interest in exploring the process of IPA development there is no commitment to be a part of an IPA.

If there is a critical mass of interest, the WMS will analyze the interested group for practice similarities and other shared characteristics to determine the best management structure. At that point, a more specific business plan will be produced. The Medical Society would also consult with other Wyoming stakeholders who have experience in statewide health care efforts.

Who to contact with interest level?

To contact the Wyoming Medical Society regarding your interest level in an Independent Practice Association, contact the Wyoming Medical Society offices in Cheyenne at 307-635-2424 or tom@wyomed.org.

Friends of Wyoming Medical Society