New Report Indicates Private Practice Physicians Dwindling

1 in 3 Physicians Seek to Transform to Subscription-based Care

A new report released last week by consulting giant Accenture finds more and more physicians are leaving private practice and that this trend is accelerating. The report cites rising costs and health IT initiatives  among reasons why doctors are making a move. The report estimates that by 2013, only 36% of U.S. physicians are projected to remain independent.

Clinical Transformation: New Business Models for a New Era in Healthcare is a result of a survey of 204 physicians, representing an equal split of primary care and specialty physicians with an equal geographic distribution across the U.S. The report is a follow up to Accenture’s 2011 study and indicates the move out of private practice is accelerating at an astonishing rate.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 87 percent of physicians surveyed cited the cost and expense of running a business as a chief concern.
  • 65 percent joining health systems said they expect to make the same or less compensation than in private practice.
  • 61 percent cited business operations as a main reason for seeking hospital employment rather than remaining independent.
  • More than half of doctors (53 percent) cited electronic health record requirements as a main reason for leaving private practice.

The report is not all doom and gloom, stating there are pluses here for both physicians and patients, pointing to the wide range of direct-pay subscription models and concierge medicine.

Physicians who wish to remain independent have to find ways to lower their cost structure or improve their revenue. Subscription-based practices have the potential to do both.Doctors who convert to subscription based models that shift the focus away from service volume will not only access greater financial rewards, but will also gain the flexibility to get back to the basics of patient care. Patients could also reap the rewards by gaining enhanced access to care at a service level they can afford.

“More independent physicians are offering subscription-based services as a way for patients to customize their care experience,” said Kaveh Safavi, M.D., J.D., who leads Accenture’s North America health industry. “Meanwhile, patients appreciate the opportunity to supplement their existing coverage with premium, subscription-based services, such as same-day appointments and online prescription refills.”

Read or download a PDF of the report.