53% of Doctors Still Self-Employed

John Commins, September 18, 2013

While data shows there's been an uptick in hospital employment for physicians, more than half still work for themselves, an AMA survey finds. The number of physicians in solo practice, however,  has dropped.

Conventional wisdom says physicians in private practice are a dying breed.

The narrative says physicians are flocking to employed arrangements with hospitals and larger physician practices as health reform and compensation models push the healthcare industry away from fee-for-service and toward economies of scale, quality outcomes and population health.

An American Medical Association report released this week, however, suggests that the demise of private practice physicians may be overstated [PDF]. "To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the death of private practice medicine have been greatly exaggerated," AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said in prepared remarks.

"This new data shows that while there has been an increase in hospital employment, more than half of physicians (53.2%) were self-employed in 2012, and 60% worked in practices wholly owned by physicians. Needed innovation in payment and delivery reform must recognize the wide range of practice types and sizes that exist today so all physicians can participate in the move to a more patient-centered system that rewards high-quality care and reduces costs."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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