A micropractice is a type of solo practice that aims to run more efficiently by reducing overhead costs in order to increase time with patients. Physicians running micropractices limit the size of their patient population and employ time-saving technologies to increase efficiency; these actions serve the goal of fostering a strong patient-doctor relationship.
Physicians in micropractices reported higher satisfaction with family time and lower satisfaction with income compared to physicians practicing in more traditional academic or community medicine settings, according to a 2013 survey from the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. When asked to rate the quality of the care they provided, micropractice physicians scored themselves higher than employed physicians did.
In a micropractice, physicians typically get to know their patients better. Doctors are often more accessible and patients aren’t usually going through a receptionist or an answering service to reach them. Instead, micropractice physicians answer their own phones and use HIPAA-compliant apps to communicate with patients via text and email.
“Patients should be able to call the doctor any time if they have a problem or issue,” says Mark Leeds, DO, who runs a micropractice in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “They shouldn’t have to wait in long lines in a crowded office or deal with an answering service.”
In a micropractice model, the team of medical assistants and nurses disappears or is greatly reduced.
“Managing people is a challenging aspect to running a business, so a micropractice eliminates that challenge, or really cuts down on it,” says Greg Esmer, DO, who runs a micropractice in Portland, Oregon.
Micropractice doctors also don’t have to extend their license and liability to a team of people.
“I’ve had the good fortune to work with some very well-trained people, but taking responsibility for every word out of a team’s mouth every day is unnerving,” says April Goggans, DO, who runs a micropractice in Grand Junction, Colorado. “I vastly prefer to be the only one around. Therefore, if I mess up, it’s actually my fault.”
How 3 micropractices operate
Below are the finer details on how Dr. Leeds, Dr. Esmer and Dr. Goggans run their micropractices.
Mark Leeds, DO | Fee-for-service and direct primary care hybrid
Dr. Leeds practices family medicine with a focus on treating patients with opioid dependence. He has been running his current micropractice in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for about two years. His practice is predominantly fee-for-service, but he’s also borrowed some tactics from the direct primary care model. For instance, he doesn’t charge patients for follow-up appointments occurring within a month of the original appointment.
April Goggans, DO | Membership and cash pay-per-visit hybrid
Dr. Goggans practices family medicine in a direct primary care model. Instead of dealing with insurance companies, patients can pay membership fees for continuous care or opt to pay cash for each visit. Dr. Goggans says the thought of opening her own practice was intimidating at first, but after reading some books and taking a class in marketing, she felt more prepared. She has been practicing in her “favorite way of practice” for about a year in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Greg Esmer, DO | Fee-for service model
Dr. Esmer is a neuromusculoskeletal medicine specialist. After taking out a small business loan, he has been running his micropractice, Osteopathic PDX, in Portland, Oregon, for five years. He uses an insurance-based, fee-for-service model. Dr. Esmer says he paid off his loan within a year after opening his practice. A self-described introvert, Dr. Esmer says he values the down time he has between patients.