Hospital employment here to stay, but not all independent docs give up practices

Although healthcare trends often ebb and flow, hospital employment is one that appears to not just have staying power, but keeps growing--despite some fierce opposition.

"Health reform, [accountable care organizations], and population health require physician alignment with hospitals and insurers," Jim Stone, president of The Medicus Firm, recently told the Dallas/Fort Worth Healthcare Daily. "The simplest way to accomplish that, is to employ physicians and compensate them in ways that drive them to achieve the goals of the employer."

Research from the staffing company shows evidence of a lasting paradigm shift, with 87 percent of its placements so far in 2015 for employed opportunities.

Recruiters offered the following additional reasons physicians may continue to forego independence for hospital employment:

  • Growing burdens such as ICD-10 implementation, CMS reporting requirements and shifting payment models make the security and resources offered by hospitals more appealing.
  • Many younger doctors have never owned and managed a medical practice, and may prefer the job mobility that comes with working for someone else.
  • With student debt averaging $150,000, newer physicians are reluctant to take the financial risk that comes with partnership or starting a new practice.

A small subset of physicians, however, remains committed to preserving the independent practice model. Groups such as the Association of Independent Doctors, with about 600 members in 12 states, argue that independent physicians offer superior cost, quality and access for patients, noted an article from Becker's ASC Review.

In contrast, physicians who work for hospitals must shift their allegiance from patients to their employers, said Marni Jameson, executive director of the association. "The practitioner is incented by quotas, how many patients they refer, and they are tracked," she said.

To keep their autonomy, Jameson recommended that independent physicians work to maintain strong referral bases, protect patient records, teach patients about the benefits of belonging to private practices and leverage group-purchasing opportunities.

To learn more:
- read the article from the Dallas/Fort Worth Healthcare Daily
- see the story from Becker's ASC Review