While selling your medical practice and becoming a hospital employee has its drawbacks, it also comes with many perks.
Hospitals across the country are seeking to acquire private practices. But many physicians are hesitant to get on board.
Selling your practice and becoming part of a larger healthcare system comes with many tradeoffs - including a loss of autonomy, more bureaucracy, and more oversight.
Still, there are some benefits of acquisition to consider before turning down an offer. Here are five of the most notable:
1. Stability in uncertain times. At a time when the viability of private practice is questioned on a daily basis, acquisition can provide physicians with a sense of stability, Daniel Stech, a principal at Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting recently told Physicians Practice.
"There's a lot of risk in being an independent practice," said Stech, pointing to declining and changing reimbursements, increasing regulatory burdens, and uncertainty due to healthcare reform. "To a large degree, when a physician moves to employment the risk for those kinds of things shift to their employer, and I think the impact on the physician doesn’t totally go away, but it does get mitigated because they're now employees."
2. New technology and technology assistance. If your practice has had difficulty acquiring new technology due to cost concerns, acquisition may help. Often, the larger system will provide you with technology, such as an EHR, and assist you with implementation and routine maintenance, Wade Thomas, a regional manager at Healthcare Strategy Group recently told Physicians Practice.
"You have greater access to a capital partner, so getting the new high-tech diagnostics equipment, access to those kinds of services for your patients is easier."
3. Participation in new reimbursement models. As part of a larger system, you will have more negotiating power with payers, and you will likely have more opportunities to participate in new value-based reimbursement models.
One reason: Many of these reimbursement models require increased care coordination between physicians, practices, and hospitals (such as accountable care organizations). If you are part of an integrated system, and if you are accustomed to working well within it, it's going to be easier for you to thrive within a broader network.
"Being a part of an integrated system is definitely going to be beneficial in the long run as reimbursement changes," said Thomas.
4. Fewer administrative burdens. Hospital acquisition will likely free you up from many of the administrative burdens associated with running a medical practice. That, of course, will enable you to focus more on what you enjoy: caring for patients.
"You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re going to make payroll every two weeks," said Thomas. "You don’t have to worry about resolving issues between staff members who don’t get along. You don’t have to worry about sitting down with your staff and telling them, 'We can’t fund your pension this year,' or, 'Our benefits program is too expensive so we're going to cut benefits.'"
5. Better benefits for staff. Hospital acquisition may lead to improved pay and benefits for your staff members.
"We do mergers and acquisitions of practices all the time," said Thomas. "I have yet to see a practice with a benefits package across the board that’s better than what the hospital is providing employees."