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Trending Away From Private Practice

Posted: March 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Trends | Tags: , | No Comments »

More and more doctors are shifting away from private practice towards salaried positions with hospitals and health systems. The New York Times has written an article about the trend, which has led the percentage of medical practices owned by doctors to less than 50%, down from around 70% five years ago.

As recently as 2005, more than two-thirds of medical practices were physician-owned — a share that had been relatively constant for many years, the Medical Group Management Association says. But within three years, that share dropped below 50 percent, and analysts say the slide has continued.

The trend away from small private practices is driven by growing concerns over medical errors and changes in government payments to doctors. But an even bigger push may be coming from electronic health records. The computerized systems are expensive and time-consuming for doctors, and their substantial benefits to patient safety, quality of care and system efficiency accrue almost entirely to large organizations, not small ones. The economic stimulus plan Congress passed early last year included $20 billion to spur the introduction of electronic health records.