Independently owned medical practices: A winning strategy for the patient and provider

By: Dr. David A. Russian, CEO, Western Washington Medical Group

As our economy grows, so does the healthcare economy. The growth we have experienced in our region from Boeing, Fluke, Microsoft and Amazon has pushed consolidation closer to the forefront of healthcare. However, even as large medical groups are acquiring medical practices in our community, and throughout the country, bigger may not always be better.

Twenty years ago, there were many independent medical groups in our region. Today, Western Washington Medical Group (WWMG) is the only independent practice in Snohomish County. Nationally, independent practices represent about 30 percent of the healthcare market, according to the American Society of Independent Doctors.

WWMG was founded by a local, independent group of providers in the early 1990s. It has expanded to more than 100 providers, who live and work in Snohomish County. We launched the “Genuinely Local” advertising campaign, to underscore our continued independence, showcasing several of our WWMG providers, in their workwear, going about everyday activities in our local community such as bowling or fishing.

Independent medical groups have big benefits for patients like lowering costs. The difference can be more than 50 percent less than a hospital. Without a large entity like a hospital or corporation to subsidize losses, we’re able to keep costs down. Insurance companies understand this and recognize that we generally incur lower costs as a result of minimized care and testing in the hospital.

Our model works because we can create an environment that allows our providers the freedom to build their practice the way that works best for them as well as the needs of their patients. We do not follow a cookie-cutter approach, because our mission is to do what is right for the patient. Sometimes, when appropriate, that may even mean that we may refer to a specialist or procedure outside our group, if in fact that is what is right for the patient.

With our patient-centered approach, whether it is a routine checkup or a more specialized process, our patients can be assured that they are getting care tailored to their needs. Our providers recognize how fortunate we are in being able to help people live healthier lives. It is a privilege to serve our community.

Dr. David A. Russian is CEO of Western Washington Medical Group, a provider-owned and provider-run, multi-specialty medical practice. Dr. Russian specializes in Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders and practices in Everett. He received his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis and completed his residency at NYU Medical center in New York. After fellowship training at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and the University of Washington in Seattle, Dr. Russian moved to Everett to join WWMG.

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