Independent practices: A vanishing breed

Just one in three physicians will remain in private practice by the end of 2016, according to a new report from Accenture.

While statistics surrounding the state of independent practice vary depending on the source, there is consensus that a shift in practice makeup is underway. Top reasons physicians increasingly forego independence, according to the report, include reimbursement pressures (36 percent) and overhead expenses (23 percent).

Thus, practices that have remained independent have made changes in order to sustain themselves. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they had opted out of Medicaid, according to the report, while 15 percent chose not to see patients insured by health exchange plans and 3 percent dropped Medicare.

"Independent practices need business models that are as unique as the market they serve," Kaveh Safavi, global managing director of Accenture's health business, said in an announcement. "There's increasing complexity with running an independent practice and requires that doctors differentiate by specialty type, size or in personalizing service options, such as remote consultations or same-day appointments. Doing so will help independent physicians stay relevant and profitable."

Other highlights of the online survey of 194 independent U.S. physicians include the following:

  • 22 percent of respondents have reduced support personnel
  • 21 percent have extended office hours
  • 17 percent participate in accountable care organizations
  • 7 percent participate in patient-centered medical homes

Practices also adopt alternative business models, such as subscription-based practices, to remain competitive in today's healthcare market, Accenture noted.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- access the report (.pdf)