Physician partnerships: A thing of the past?

For past generations, the appeal of pursuing a medical career stemmed, in part, from the level of independence physicians held — they had the option to open or join a private practice and become their own boss instead of signing themselves away. However, recent studies suggest physician partnerships and owning a medical practice have fallen out of favor with millennial physicians, athenainsight reports.

According to a 2016 survey by the American Medical Association, 32.8 percent of physicians identified as working directly for a hospital or hospital system or in a practice fully or partly owned by hospital or hospital system. Roughly 47 percent of respondents identified as owning their own practice, down from 53.2 percent in 2012.

A similar survey conducted by Medscape in 2016 found 22 percent of medical residents said they anticipated owning their own practice in the future, down from 26 percent in 2015.

Several reasons account for the change in perception, including the financial obligations and risks associated with owning a practice, and increasing regulatory hurdles and administrative responsibilities.

"I don't think independent practice is really an option, especially for primary care," said Elisabeth Poorman, MD, a primary care physician with Cambridge (Mass.) Health Alliance. "I think that the private practice thing doesn't really exist anymore because there's too much overhead."

Owning a practice also limits a physician's ability to diversify their knowledge and take on a variety of roles in different aspects of the health industry.

"There is an increasing level of competition for physician talent coming from nontraditional sources," said Jessica Sweeney-Platt, executive director of research at athenahealth. "It's insurance companies and device companies and pharmaceutical companies and consumer technology companies. Everyone wants to be in healthcare, and to be credible in healthcare, they have to have doctors on staff."

To read the full report, click here.

Editor's noteThis article was updated at 12:19 p.m. Jan. 8. A previous version of this article misstated the percentage of physicians who identified as working directly for a hospital or hospital system or in a pratice fully or partly owned by a hospital or hospital system in a 2016 AMA survey.

More articles on hospital-physician relationships:
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