As the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Urological Large Group Practice Association (LUGPA) kicks off, Kidney and Urology News He interviewed the association’s president, Jonathan Henderson, MD, CEO of Regional Urology in Shreveport, Louisiana, to get an update on the major trends affecting urological practices and LUGPA’s advocacy efforts amid political changes in Washington, DC.
What are your priorities for the next year?
Dr. Henderson: Over the next year, I plan to re-engage the groups after the past two years of isolation and financial stress; Actively engage the remaining independent groups that have not yet joined the LUGPA; continue to interact with lawmakers and regulators to settle the field in the service location; And continue efforts to keep urologists’ fee schedule fair.
In the year since our last annual meeting, has the landscape of independent urology practices changed?
Dr. Henderson: I don’t have a surprising answer here. The landscape has changed in a similar way for any company working on COVID. Retaining staff was a challenge at times. As for the patients, we are now completely exhausted. Nobody knows if this is a limited time to catch up with COVID or if we just started by chance seeing the leading edge of the silver tsunami. The only real change specific to urology was the increase in the number of urologists working. COVID financial hardship was the initiator here. Another response has been to increase the practice of private equity. In my opinion, this is the most correct response in situations of financial distress.
Although urological practices appear to have rebounded in terms of case numbers from the peak of the epidemic in March and June 2020, do you think COVID-19 has led to lasting changes in how independent urological practices operate?
Dr. Henderson: The only real change was the widespread adoption of telehealth. This is not limited to urology, but I must point out that this has been incredibly common among patients.
Will a shift to Democrats control of both houses of Congress and the White House change the LUGPA’s advocacy efforts?
Dr. Henderson: Not much. We have always been very equal in terms of political parties. Our health policy team has developed judicious relationships with people who are now in leadership positions, so we have a voice in Washington, DC. The really interesting thing is that even considering the transition of power, DC has been really silent about health policy until the last few weeks. Now, though, in the past two weeks, we’ve had a dump truck emptied at our front door by management with MPFS. [Medicare Physician Fee Schedule], OPPS [Outpatient Prospective Payment System], Part D drug price changes, Part B drug pricing changes, etc. The good news, again, is that our health policy team has positioned itself well to assess and respond.
What, if any, legislative actions at the federal level in the past year have been favorable to independent medical practices?
Dr. Henderson: We have been very pleased with the support provided at DC to resolve service differences on site. Scotts [Supreme Court of the United States] We’ve been granted a transfer order in the American Heart Association [American Hospital Association] Site neutrality challenge. That was a big win. The result of this is the constant change in attitudes across the government to eventually pay one price for one token regardless of the location of the service. This will support our model of healthcare delivery: We’re doing it faster, better, and cheaper. Everyone wins under the LUGPA form. Another big win is the commitment to hospital pricing transparency for the same reason.
Are there any recent trends that you expect to have a negative or positive impact on independent urological practices?
Dr. Henderson: An obvious trend has been to increase partnership practices with private equity. As I mentioned earlier, this is a healthy response to financial stress, rather than selling to the hospital. Another notable trend has been the massive increase in the use of apps [advanced practice providers] In our practices, which I think has been a wonderful addition to both our practices and our patients. Finally, out of necessity, our groups adhere more tightly to the principles of action, review of use and adherence to the path. And for the most part, these are good things.