3 ways hospital-affiliated physicians can maintain some of their independence

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Doctors don't have to lose their independence when they become affiliated with a large hospital or healthcare system.

While more doctors are now affiliated with large hospital systems, there are options that allow them to maintain some independence.

Full-time employment isn’t the only option for physicians who choose to work as part of a large healthcare system, according to Medical Economics. The year 2016 marked a tipping point for physician practices, as practice owners are no longer the majority, according to a survey by the American Medical Association.

So as more practices become owned by healthcare systems, here are some ways doctors can make the relationship work for them:

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Negotiate your employment conditions. Eric Tait, M.D., a primary care doctor in Houston, negotiated his employment with IASIS Healthcare so he works as an employed doctor while maintaining his outside business contracts. He agreed to a contract that allows his employer to collect revenue from his clinical work and pay him a salary, but does not share any rights from an investment partnership in an independent practice association, the publication said. Tait said physicians should negotiate upfront that their revenue from outside business ventures is protected.

RELATED: 1 in 4 physician practices now hospital-owned

Ensure a good fit. Choosing a healthcare system to align with is a vital part of balancing the combination of employment and independence, Paul DeChant, M.D., a family physician working as deputy chief health officer at Simpler Consulting, told the publication. You want your values to match those of the system and its leadership.

Become a contractor, rather than an employee. That allows Maria Armstrong, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician in Medina, Ohio, to maintain control of aspects of her practice. She works as medical director for a rehabilitation hospital. While she has the benefits that come with being part of a hospital system, she has the freedom to practice medicine in the way best for her patients, without the pressure of making decisions based on an employer’s profitability, she said.

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