PHYSICIANS’ HEALTH NETWORK: A UNIQUE OPTION IN YOUR HEALTHCARE DECISION We all make many decisions in our life, but few are as complicated as decisions we make concerning our healthcare.

Nationwide, binding physician affiliations and expanding healthcare systems have grown dramatically over the years. As a result, very few independent healthcare practices have survived. Approximately 20 years ago more than half of U.S. physicians were independent. Today less than one third of U.S. physicians are independent. “This is significant because studies show that when independent practices decrease, healthcare costs go up and quality and satisfaction go down,” said Michael D. Johnson, MD, President of Physicians Health Network (PHN), and an internal medicine specialist from Sheboygan Internal Medicine Associates (SIMA).

Everyday hospitals and private equity groups are buying up medical practices turning independent doctors into employees. That trend is not healthy for patients or for doctors and it hurts our health-care system. When doctors give up their independence to work for health systems, studies show that health-care costs go up, quality goes down, access to care is limited, jobs are lost, communities suffer financial harm, and doctors AND patients feel less satisfied. Everybody pays. – The Association of Independent Doctors. PHN is largely comprised of independent healthcare providers in Sheboygan County. A practice that is not considered self-owned may still be a member of PHN due to its deep ties to independent healthcare and a desire for a vast referral base in the community.

Independent physicians have more freedom than doctors in large medical groups and systems. This is because independent physicians are self-employed and responsible for their own practice management and have the advantage of negotiating contracts for their own services or suppliers such as radiology, laboratories, or hospitals.

According to Dr. Johnson, “As an independent physician, I am not confined by the policies or politics of a large health care system. I can take time to get to know my patients, listen to them, answer their questions, understand their concerns and health goals, and form a physician/patient partnership to help them achieve their healthcare goals.”

PHN physicians make referrals, when needed, based on their patients’ needs, conditions, and preferences, and are not mandated by their network membership. “Our members are committed to their patients and when a referral is needed, while they may prefer to choose a provider within PHN, they are not bound, by their PHN affiliation, to do so,” said Dr. Johnson.

There are also unique guiding principles that tend to set independent physicians apart from larger system practices, such as:

  1. Promote value-added efficiencies and effectiveness in the delivery of health care to patients.
  2. Partner with patients in the development and monitoring of a care plan.
  3. Develop relationships with patients that are based on understanding, respect, dignity, and compassion.
  4. Form strong relationships and open communication among independent family practice physicians, specialists, and hospitals to ensure patients receive the highest level of care.
  5. Focus on preventive health and if chronic health conditions arise, collaborate with the patients’ medical team to ensure the best health practices are administered for the highest quality of life outcomes. “These are some of the guiding principles incorporated into our vision, values, and mission,” said Dr. Johnson. More than 180 primary and specialty care independent physicians and allied health professionals are members of PHN. “Our members can reach out to other independent physicians for support, collaboration, idea sharing, and other needs as they arise,” said Dr. Johnson. PHN providers recognize the importance of maintaining good relationships with all area providers, whether they are members of PHN, Ascension, Aurora, Prevea, etc. to ensure the best quality of care for their patients. “We believe our ability to practice medicine independently, our strong working relationships with all Sheboygan area medical providers, and our commitment to making the best decisions for our patients is what medicine is all about – it’s good for our patients and it’s good for the community in which we all live, work and play,” said Dr. Johnson

SOURCES: https://www.physicianshealthnetwork.org/About.php

http://www.aid-us.org/ https://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/independent-physician-associations.html https://1800health.com/general/health-plans/how-to-choose-the-correct-medical-group-or-ipa/ https://www.elationhealth.com/independent-practices-blog/ipas-v-medical-groups/