WHY NP PRACTICES NEED “VALUE AGGREGATORS”: LET’S TALK MONEY

NP practice owners are entrepreneurs who want to be independent—to be free-standing.  But best case, these independents will each see 1500 patients, and a 1500 patient panel is too small to create contracting leverage, even with remarkable outcomes that are reliably great.  But if 10 NP practices, each with 1500 patient panel, combine their quality data, 15,000 lives begins to have credibility. Who collects the data and leverages these 10 NP practices’ outcomes into some share of the savings flowing to the NPs?  Who supports the business end of the 10 practices so the NPs can do what they love?  Below I propose the not-so-new idea of a value aggregator as the entity that brings the necessary capabilities to the table to give those 10 practices “the independence they want and the support that they need”.  What will success of an NP value aggregator look like?  I vote for negotiation of payment models that leverage the quality and cost value the nursing process invariably produces.

At NNPEN’s second annual conference, Minneapolis 2018, we saw an independent (indie) NP practice profile developing: maybe no brick and mortar office space, outsourced backroom functions, digital clinical platform, and miserly (even in FPA states) commercial insurer payments, based on an unsustaining Fee For Service schedule at 85% of Medicare’s Physician rate.  And adding insult to injury, payments offered no opportunity to boost the NP practice’s FFS revenue base with either or both of two enhancements health insurers offer every primary care physician: 1) care coordination fees and 2) shared savings (SS) programs that encourage the provider to benefit from better than average quality of outcomes and cost-effectiveness.  The economic implications of this for a small 1 FTE NP practice with a patient panel of 1500, are not chopped liver.  Modeling done for NNPEN for our Summer 2018 NPE Conference conservatively estimates a Shared Savings impact of $9,000 annually for our hypothetical 1 FTE NP practice.

How do nurse-owned practices negotiate for these fairly modest concessions—essentially, a leveling of the reimbursement playing field? Bring numbers to the table!  # of PCPs, # of patients, a depth and breadth of coherent data detail.  Aggregation generates value.   NNPEN’s position is that payment reform requires NPs looking beyond their individual practices to imagine what being part of a “single signature” contracting entity—an “aggregator”– might look like.  Is it a PC?  Is it an IPA? Is it a Management Services Organization (MSO)? Is it owned by the providers themselves? Does it offer a solution to the business acumen deficit most practice owners experience and, as noted earlier, want to outsource to a trusted MSO?

We see both national and local solutions emerging here.  Fortunately, the first “single signature” contracting entity opportunity for indie NP practices –the first “value aggregator”– is at our doorstep: CareSpan, a digital healthcare company.  .

NNPEN wants to be right there with our members in evaluating the fit between aggregators like CareSpan and independent NP practices.  SO: over the next few months NNPEN is scheduling live sessions with CareSpan and interested NP Entrepreneurs: the first will be in Baltimore, MD area in the first quarter of 2019—Saturday February 2, 2019 1:00pm to 4:30pm, to be exact.  Program information coming soon.

Pay attention.

SB