Moving Away From Private Practice to Health Care Systems

June 14, 2011
Laura Mortkowitz

A new survey by Accenture shows that more physicians are leaving private practice to the point that by 2013 only one-third of physicians will still be independent.

More physicians are leaving private practice jobs for health care systems. According to a survey by Accenture less than one-third will remain truly independent by 2013. This follows closely with the recent Merritt Hawkins study that show less job openings for private practice physicians.

This strong growth of employment at health systems — expected to grow at an annual rate of 5% over the next three years — is mostly a result of the attractive benefits offered by being at a hospital-based job. Physicians will see a relief from administrative responsibilities; greater access to cutting-edge IT, facilities and equipment; a more manageable work week; and a more stable business environment.

“Health reform is challenging the entire system to deliver improved care through insight driven health,” Kristin Ficery, senior executive at Accenture Health, said in a statement. “We see an increasing number of physicians leaving private practice to join hospital systems, which will force all stakeholders to revise and refine their business models, product offerings and service strategies.”

According to Accenture, hospitals will need to determine how to retain and recruit the correct mix of physicians. And along with the physicians’ move will be a change in patient behavior. The current trend of visiting doctors in small practice settings will decrease as more patients move to large health systems.

This migration from private practice will affect not only the health systems, but other companies. Health care IT, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and payers will have to revise their business models.