OrthoTexas: A Private Practice Weathering the Storm of Hospital Consolidation

With the tidal wave of hospital consolidation in healthcare, there’s a public perception that patients don’t have a choice when selecting a specialist anymore––this simply is not true. Physician owned, in-network practices continue to thrive and provide the most complete access to the highest quality physicians, therapists, technology, and staff available in the healthcare industry today. OrthoTexas Orthopedics and Sports Medicine celebrates its fifth year as a premier physician owned orthopedic practice, sighting its all-inclusive model as a key differentiator in its success.

Knowing the difference between independent and employed physicians can empower patients to make informed choices. As healthcare reform pushes higher reimbursement rates to hospitals, private practices across the country are being forced to either close their doors, or be acquired by hospital groups. CNN reported hospital purchases of physician owned practices increased 30 to 40% over the past five years, which has made finding an independent practitioner increasingly difficult. However, locating one of these hidden gems not only ensures a higher level of personalized care for the patient, but it also helps heal our broken healthcare system.

The Affordable Care Act was architected to incentivize quality of care––not quantity of care, yet hospital acquisition of physician practices has been shown to initiate higher prices. For example, health insurance might pay $1,000 to treat an oncology patient in the doctor’s office, but $5,000 if it’s done in a hospital. What is the reason for the drastic difference? Hospitals have higher operating costs, even if you aren’t utilizing their 24-hour ambulatory care, patients are still paying the significant overhead fees. Independently owned facilities, like OrthoTexas, are not only able to operate more efficiently, but patients are able to see their preferred doctor more quickly. “At OrthoTexas, our patients only pay for what they need,” says Dr. Keith Heier, OrthoTexas Board President, “that’s a big difference when it comes to deductibles and co- insurance.”

When doctors aren’t in charge of their practices, many feel patient care takes the first hit, because to an independent doctor, patients are not just a number to meet a quota. Yes, your physician may be less stressed about administrative hassles, but under hospital management, is constrained by numerous layers of administrative policy. Many doctors are forced to see substantially more patients per day, decreasing the time spent with each patient. This model inherently works against fostering a solid doctor-patient relationship. “OrthoTexas was created to provide elite orthopedic surgeons a platform to run their businesses better,” explains Heier. “Our goal is to foster the traditional relationship between patient and physician, therefore our focus is 100% patient service oriented. As our patient, we promise you’ll see your physician, on your time, in your facility.”

The independent practice model affords patients a great deal of control over their own health care. Patients can discuss treatment options and outcomes, without their doctor being forced to push an agenda. Not having the burden of hospital constraints allows doctors access to a wider variety of treatment options for their patients, as well as the ability to provide consistency of care as their sole provider. OrthoTexas has taken the private practice model to the next level, by offering patients the all-inclusive facility feel of a hospital, without these constraints. The patient journey at one of their seven locations is a well thought out process from beginning to end, with patient service at the forefront of all aspects. Making an appointment with one of their 25 highly skilled orthopedic physicians and surgeons is fast and easy with their online and mobilized tools. “Our culture has taught us to go directly to the hospital for urgent, after hours needs,” says Heier, “our answer to that is our OrthoAM clinic in our Carrolton office. Patients with immediate needs can see a specialist before regular clinical hours, without an appointment.” Once a patient walks through the doors at OrthoTexas they have full access to on-site imaging and x-rays; affording the convenience of faster results and fewer appointments. Once a diagnosis is made, patients have the ability to extend their journey through their on-site, outpatient surgery centers and in-house rehabilitation clinics. “At OrthoTexas, the doctor-patient relationship doesn’t end when physical therapy begins,” explains Heier. “By housing our own rehabilitative therapy clinics, doctors and therapists are able to work hand-in-hand to give our patients a cohesive recovery plan.”

In an environment of conglomerates and healthcare giants, this local, seven location practice is bucking the system and staying true to traditional, small business values. Convenience, expertise and quality service are consumer priorities across all industries. OrthoTexas is taking this business to the consumer model, applying it to healthcare, and thriving. “At the end of the day, independent practitioners work for their patients,” explains Heier. “From all of our practitioners at OrthoTexas, we sincerely appreciate the loyalty our patients have shown us throughout the years and we look forward to serving you for years to come.”