Every so often, a new patient of internist Jean Antonucci in Farmington, ME, looks puzzled when the doctor herself—and not a medical assistant—walks into the waiting room and escorts him to a 125-square-foot room.
In that room, which looks out on pine trees and a stream, Antonucci takes vital signs, asks the patient what's bothering him, diagnoses and treats that problem, and collects the copay. By the time the patient leaves, he realizes that Antonucci is truly a one-woman show.
"I really don't need staff," says Antonucci, who rents the space from another physician. "I'm amazed at how well this method works."
The method is known as a micropractice, and it defies the conventional wisdom of practice management experts who urge doctors to boost their productivity by delegating nonphysician chores. A micropractice doctor typically works without employees in a space that's drastically smaller than what the average soloist has. Such austerity reduces the customary overhead by 40 to 50 percent, thereby lowering the break-even point and enabling micropractitioners to spend more time with fewer patients.
Speaking of evolution, the official name is now "Ideal Medical Practice" or IMP, and not micropractice. That's because you don't have to be solo/small to achieve ideal health care.