Physician Independence Not Incompatible With Reform

Philip Betbeze, January 27, 2012

Plenty of people will tell you that the independent physician is a rapidly dying breed. A few reasons they cite:

  • Coding, billing, and collections are getting more complex.
  • It costs a lot of money and effort to achieve meaningful use standards.
  • Learning team-based medical practice is difficult.
  • Young physicians don't want the hassle and long hours of running a business in addition to seeing patients.

I could go on and on. It's true that challenges like these aren't going away. Indeed, they're a necessary part of the transformation of healthcare into a more predictable, more high-quality endeavor.

That doesn't mean they don't cause a lot of upheaval. Some of this upheaval means lots of formerly independent physicians are giving up the business side and joining as employees with hospitals, health systems, and health plans. Some physicians equate that outcome as "giving up."

The challenges of adaptation are real and seismic for every healthcare organization, and they're exceedingly more difficult to deal with for small independent physician groups.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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