Uncertain future, financial woes change how doctors run practices


Uncertainty about the future of the healthcare industry ahead of the November elections and the rising cost of doing business are driving physician leaders' decisions about their practices, including whether to buy, sell or merge.  

Financial pressures impact multiple factors, from the way a practice is established to investments in technology and even doctors’ retirement outlook, according to a survey by TD Bank. 

The survey of more than 340 small medical practices in the U.S. found that 39 percent of physicians purchased a partnership in an established practice or an existing practice, while 37 percent started their practice from scratch.

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Meanwhile, uncertainty about the future--including the outcome of the 2017 elections--also impacts physicians’ decisions. Fifty percent of doctors responding to the survey said they either have or would consider purchasing, buying into or merging with another practice or selling their practice outright. And most (73 percent) of that subset said they expected to make a change in the next four years.

Forty-six percent said it’s simply too expensive to run a practice

"We are seeing a growing trend of more healthcare providers buying into practices with a partnership or purchasing an existing practice because they are seeking added financial security and well-established businesses," Dan Croft, head of the bank’s healthcare practice solutions, said. "The survey findings reflect a shift in the industry because of the rising cost of doing business--from technology to insurance."

The survey also found that more women are becoming owners of their practice. While women responding to the survey have been in practice an average of 16 years, 36 percent of women said they've owned their own practice for less than five years.

The three top challenges, according to the survey, are:

  • Reimbursements from insurance providers (52 percent)
  • Managing overhead costs such as supplies and rent (51 percent)
  • Keeping up with technology (35 percent)

Check out the infographic below for more stats, including how worried doctors are about the outcome of the November elections: