November 27, 2018
When you need care for your back and neck pain, you want your doctor to make the best recommendation for treatment. But not every doctor can. When it comes to referring you for treatment and specialized care, some doctors can only provide you limited options, while others have a lot more freedom.
How can you tell one from the other? Often it comes down to the difference between hospitals and independent practices.
What is an independent practice?
Dr. Eric Potts, a board-certified neurosurgeon here at Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine, explains it this way.
“When we say we’re independent, it means we’re not employed by a hospital or healthcare system,” said Dr. Potts. “That gives us the ability to utilize the best of healthcare systems for what the patient needs.”
In other words, an independent practice like Goodman Campbell is not beholden to the same potential restrictions of a hospital-employed practice. If our doctors believe that a patient should be referred to an outside expert, they make the referral. That’s not always the case in a hospital setting.
“If you’re a hospital-employed physician, often you can only send patients to other physicians employed by the same hospital,” said Dr. Potts. “That goes for testing as well, such as x-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs, which the hospital will do in-house.”
For patients, that often means higher costs.
Less money, more options
When doctors have more choice in referrals, it’s patients who win big. For example, at an independent practice, doctors can utilize outpatient imaging facilities for testing, rather than using hospital facilities, which saves patients money.
And this flexibility also means that doctors can go with their first choice when referring a patient to a specialist, rather than choosing someone from a list.
“The most important thing for patients is that an independent practice allows them to choose a physician that their doctor recommends,” said Dr. Potts. “At Goodman Campbell, we can recommend whomever we consider the very best. We aren’t constrained by our employer when we advise our patients.”
Being independent also offers more freedom overall to direct patient care.
“We can change things more easily and adapt in ways that corporate medicine can’t,” said Dr. Potts. “It really enables us to provide more individualized care.”
The result? According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons’ Quality Outcomes Database, Goodman Campbell scores better than the national average on patient outcomes. For Dr. Potts, that comes part and parcel with being an independent practice.
“Our patient outcomes are fantastic,” said Dr. Potts. “That’s really what we’re committed to the most. Good patient outcomes are part of our very fiber.”