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Health Reform May Endanger Independent Physician Practices

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 22, 2010

Healthcare reform will dramatically change how physicians conduct business and likely will mean the end of full-time, independent, private practitioners accepting third-party payments, according to a new report.

Instead, the survey and report commissioned by Boston-based The Physicians Foundation predicts that physicians will become employees, part-time workers, administrators, operate cash-only "concierge" practices, or leave medicine altogether.

"The private practice physician is rapidly disappearing," said Lou Goodman, president of nonprofit The Physician Foundation. "Both market forces and the healthcare reform law are forcing physicians to find new ways of running a practice.  We are extremely concerned about how this will affect patient care."
The report, Health Reform and the Decline of Physician Private Practice, conducted and compiled by physician recruiters Merritt Hawkins, includes results from a national survey of 2,400 physicians, only 26% of whom said they would continue practicing the way they are in the next one to three years. The remaining 74% said they would retire, work part-time, close their practices to new patients, become employed and/or seek non-clinical jobs.

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