Doc practices changing, with or without reform

Regardless of the Supreme Court's final say on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for many changes set in motion by health reform, there is likely no turning back, according to an article from Kaiser Health News.

The article profiles Indianapolis orthopedic surgeon Philip Ireland, who last summer joined the ranks of the growing numbers of independent physicians selling their practices to hospitals. While many physicians have expressed ambivalence about the trend, Ireland said he was happy to have made the move sooner rather than later. "The integration of hospitals and doctors is the wave of the future, and I'm glad to be on the tip of the wave rather than behind it," he told KHN.

Ireland said he didn't sell his practice because of the law directly but because of the unrelenting pressure on physicians to control costs and provide better care. These forces, he said, will continue to drive change in the marketplace with or without health reform.

Similarly, physicians who spoke with the Massachusetts Medical Society's newsletter Vital Signs described big changes they've made within their practices to prepare for long-term changes in the healthcare environment. Primary care physician Mark Costa, for example, couldn't have predicted the massive changes dictated by ACA when he switched to a concierge model in 2007, but he decided at that time that getting off the speeding treadmill of mainstream medicine was the only way his practice or career could survive.

For physicians assessing their options for practicing under a decidedly new, if not fully defined, set of rules, Massachusetts Medical Society Vice President and cardiologist Ronald Dunlap urged physicians to work proactively together to address how they'll need to change. "I think physicians will be better off if they can see a bit more of the future, move together, cooperate, and then deal with the powers that be," he said.

To learn more:
- read the article from Kaiser Health News
- see the story from Vital Signs