Are Private Practices Going the Way of the Dino?

July 6, 2010

Given “the risks and hassles” of operating their own businesses, a new survey suggests that independent, private medical practices might “be a thing of the past.”

Given “the risks and hassles” of operating their own businesses, a new survey suggests that independent, private medical practices might “be a thing of the past.”

The quotes come from Mark Smith, president of physician search firm Merritt Hawkins to accompany the firm’s 2010 Review of Physician Recruiting Initiatives.

The survey found that the number of physicians ditching practice ownership in favor of hospital employment continues to grow.

Fifty-one percent of physician recruitment requests tracked by the Texas firm featured hospital settings, up from 45 percent a year ago and 23 percent four years ago, according to the survey.
The survey tracked more than 2,800 physician recruiting assignments across the U.S. over a one year period.

“Physicians are tired of the risks and hassles of owning their own shops and are choosing to work as employees, Smith said in a statement.

The survey goes on to note that “many physicians” – with an emphasis on specialists – are seeking employment with hospitals, “to relieve them of the stress of high malpractice rates, the struggle for reimbursement, administrative duties and the general risks and hassles of private practice.”

It continues that hospital employment is “viewed favorably” by many physicians today, and from Merritt Hawkins’ experience, “hospitals offering employed positions may enjoy an advantage over those who do not.”

So with health reform starting to creep along, Medicare reimbursements becoming a monthly and not yearly worry, and the economy in its current state, is hospital employment the best option? Will one or all of those factors drive private practices out of business altogether?

I tend to think not, as the survey fails to discuss the positive sides of private practice – including autonomy, a tighter patient base and the opportunity for more income. Like all independent, small businesses, hard work begets benefits, and comes with both its ups and downs.

And the rewards seem to be outweighing the risks, judging from the many of you who communicate with us on a regular basis.

So keep up the great work and unlike the dinosaurs, you will excel and not end up extinct.