Pan­elists out­line de­cline of small doc prac­tices

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

In Capi­tol Hill tes­ti­mony, the head of physi­cian-re­cruit­ment firm Mer­ritt Hawkins said that about 75% of his firm’s physi­cian place­ments will be as hospi­tal em­ploy­ees in two years if cur­rent trends continue. At a hear­ing of the House Small Busi­ness Com­mit­tee’s Sub­com­mit­tee on In­ves­ti­ga­tions, Over­sight and Reg­u­la­tions, a panel of ex­perts ex­plained to law­mak­ers how—and why—small and solo U.S. med­i­cal prac­tices have de­clined in re­cent years. Mark Smith, pres­i­dent of Mer­ritt Hawkins, said that be­tween April 2011 and March 2012, 63% of the com­pany’s physi­cian-search as­sign­ments fea­tured hospi­tal em­ploy­ment of the physi­cian, com­pared with 56% from the year be­fore and 11% in 2004. He cited flat or de­clin­ing re­im­burse­ment, grow­ing reg­u­la­tory and ad­min­is­tra­tive has­sles, mal­prac­tice-in­sur­ance costs, health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy im­ple­men­ta­tion and the ef­fects of health­care re­form as the rea­sons why. He added that the small, pri­vate-prac­tice model is likely to per­sist in smaller, ru­ral ar­eas where there are few physi­cians, but even those doc­tors will likely part­ner with larger groups. Mean­while, the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Car­di­ol­ogy es­ti­mates that be­tween 60% and 70% of its cur­rent physi­cian mem­bers have in­te­grated with hos­pi­tals, Dr. Jerry Ken­nett, a Columbia, Mo., car­di­ol­o­gist and chair­man of the ACC’s Ad­vo­cacy Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, told the panel. Dr. Joseph Yasso, a fam­ily physi­cian who tes­ti­fied on be­half of the Amer­i­can Os­teo­pathic As­so­ci­a­tion, said the trend can com­pro­mise the pa­tient-physi­cian re­la­tion­ship be­cause em­ployed doc­tors work for “X num­ber of dol­lars and X hours a week.”

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