Selling to a hospital? 3 critical questions to ask first

With 81 percent of physicians saying they don't see independent practices as being viable in the future, many likely are considering selling to a hospital. But practice owners should look before they leap, according to Judy Aburmishan, a certified healthcare business consultant from Chicago, who advised Medscape Business of Medicine Executive Editor Leslie Kane on the pitfalls of the trend.

Despite the appeal of unburdening themselves from the expense and strain of running their own practice, Aburmishan said physicians should examine the following details of any deal they are considering:

  • Are the physician's expected productivity targets realistic? It's common during the first year of employment for physicians to be busy with a lot of transition work and not even notice they're seeing fewer patients than they did in private practice, Aburmishan said. And if physicians don't take the initiative to ask how they are performing, they often don't learn of the slip until it's too late--after they fail to earn productivity bonuses because they haven't met agreed-upon targets.
  • How strong is the hospital's billing and collections system? A hospital isn't necessarily a more efficient collector than a doctor's private practice was, which can affect the physician's finances. What's more, individuals who perform billing for a hospital may not be as invested in billing accurately because they do not have a personal relationship with the physician.
  • Is the offer negotiable? Aburmishan advised doctors work with a consultant and/or attorney who is experienced in practice sales to ensure they will not encounter unpleasant surprises resulting from the deal. When practices make requests based on such expert advice, many times the hospital will agree to change the contract.

To learn more:
- see the interview from Medscape Business of Medicine