Can physicians still thrive independently?
For independent physicians, setting a strategic course and sticking to it is harder than ever. Independent physicians have long faced reimbursement cuts, regulatory burdens, revenue cycle problems, and malpractice costs.1 With passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the pressures are even greater.
Today, independent physicians must provide higher quality care at lower cost, to an expected increase in patients, with greater reporting and tracking demands—all in an environment of high-potential liability and declining reimbursement.
As a result, many independent physicians are considering whether they want to—or even can—remain independent. But it’s important to note that “independence” may mean different things to different practices.
For some, remaining independent may mean staying competitive as a solo or small practice when there are major pressures around consolidation. For larger groups of independent physicians, it might mean competing directly with hospitals by adding ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and other services at lower cost and greater convenience than the hospital provides. Regardless of the practice size or reasons, the bottom line is that independent physicians decide their own destiny and drive the course of their future.
Reasons for remaining independent might include:
- Ability to practice medicine—and run a practice—on your own terms
- Having full control over practice management and financial health
- Deciding to grow to compete in local market
- Ability to make informed, strategic decisions
- Confident of ability to thrive through industry change
- Being connected and integrated with hospitals while still independent
Is it still possible for independent physicians to thrive and control the course of their practices in the new health care reality? The answer is yes. As long as the right pieces are in place, it is possible to survive and thrive.
1 The Physicians Foundation. October 2010. Health Reform and the Decline of Physician Private Practice. Available at:http://www.physiciansfoundation.org/uploads/default/Health_Reform_and_the_Decline_of_Physician_Private_Practice.pdf
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