The Benefits of Selecting Smaller Practices for Your Care
Today, patients are faced with two options in selecting their doctors; seek out a large group with multiple locations, heavy on “care teams” or work with a smaller practice of only 1 or 2 providers. When making choices for Dermatology care in Florida, there is likely something for everyone, but now this topic is been formally studied and the results are surprising.
At one time, large practices were thought to be a great addition to the field of healthcare. Patients chose them for convenience or because their family doctor had joined the larger group. But now patients are questioning if bigger is really, better. The internet is full of reviews of those patients who have tried to navigate a large physician practice, expressing frustration on finding rude staff, long waits for appointments, lack of communications, or doctors rushing through visits. Patients are starting to feel that better care may not necessarily lie with these large practices. Now, these feelings are being supported by research that “bigger isn’t always better.”
Dr. Ryan Schuering, founder of Spyglass Dermatology in Stuart Florida was recently asked to describe the differences are between a large and small practice. “As a smaller practice, we can schedule as few patients as we want which gives us time to spend with our patients and listen to their concerns. Together, we develop a treatment that makes sense to them. This involvement makes the patient more likely to stay on track and improve their condition faster with fewer complications”. He said “a large practice typically offers a team approach with multiple providers handling appointments and seeing as many patients in their day as possible. This will not have the same positive impact on care because there is less time with a patient, less focused attention and a one-on-one relationship can’t develop the same way as in a smaller setting.”
A study was done using primary care practices in the August issue of Health Affairs to test this idea of “bigger is not better” and appears to agree with Dr. Schuering. The study found that practices with 1 to 2 physicians had 33% lower admission rates than practices with 10 or more physicians. Several other studies have been done in the last few years with similar results.
All the studies turned against the idea that large practices with multi-level management and sophisticated systems, produce better clinical outcomes. The findings of the Health Affairs study were largely unexpected since small practices presumably have fewer resources to provide the care patients deserve. Recent evidence suggests that small, physician-owned practices provide a greater level of personalization and responsiveness to patient needs at a lower average cost per patient. Surveys suggest patients trust independent physicians more than employed doctors.
Dr. Schuering attributed this to the fact that the practice-owner in a small practice is intimately involved in everyday decisions and planning that affect the patient experience. With boots on the ground in the office, the physician can take action quickly without committees or care teams making decisions. “At Spyglass Dermatology, we can be flexible to stay later or come in earlier — whatever it takes to make sure a patient is seen or that communications are complete. Patients asked for Saturday hours, so we added them the following week. A smaller staff means fewer layers to go through for the patient to talk to someone and I am available if needed.”
Each patient needs to determine what type of practice suits their needs. While there are good and bad examples of medical offices of all sizes, as more patients experience the smaller office setting, one wonders what the next studies on patient satisfaction will reveal.
To see if a small dermatology practice may be right for you, visit Spyglass Dermatology in Stuart Florida, or contact us today.