Physician Says Hospital Buying Practices is Like "Wal-Mart Coming Into Town"

A practicing infectious disease physician has authored an op-ed for the Washington Post, detailing his conflicted feelings about giving up private practice, and thus autonomy, to work for a hospital.  

Manoj Jain, MD, of Memphis, Tenn., said although the prognosis for private practices looks grim, his "heart aches at the prospect of losing [his] autonomy." Despite the pride and self-reliance among private practice physicians, Dr. Jain said there will only be a few holdouts from hospital employment.

"When a hospital buys out a practice and brings it into an institution's system, it's like Wal-Mart coming into town," said Dr. Jain. He said "corporate decisions" about purchasing, staffing and oversight over care and quality influence patients' experiences much more than they would in a private practice setting. In the past two years, Dr. Jain said a dozen practices in the Memphis area that included more than 100 physicians were purchased by various hospitals.

Rather than financial trouble, Dr. Jain said the reason most private physicians sell their practice to hospitals is the "uncertain future of healthcare," according to the report. He also said "back-and-forth wrangling" over issues like the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate is wearing, sometimes tempting him to sell his practice for better work-life balance and job security.

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