Deciding whether you’ll go into private practice or group practice is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for advancing your healthcare career in anesthesia. Both choices offer advantages and disadvantages, and only you will know which type of practice is right for you as a practitioner.
Entering into private practice gives you total control, both as a healthcare practitioner and a business owner. A doctor in private practice requires less administrative and clinical staff than they might in a group practice setting, and therefore has fewer employees to manage. But many private practice professionals work long hours taking care of paperwork and other business-related tasks. They are more susceptible to economic changes because they have fewer patients, and their overhead costs are often higher than those found in group practices.
A group practice setting offers less control and flexibility, but makes up for that with lower overhead, shared financial risk, and a better work-life balance. While the majority of healthcare professionals operate as part of a group practice, only you can decide what’s right for you.
Physician group practices in the U.S. have grown and changed significantly in terms of health professional team composition, employment contract types, ownership type, size and management in the last 20 years. In the past, anesthesia specialists were largely self-employed or part of small practices, however today’s physicians are employed by large healthcare organizations, as well as integrated delivery systems.
The Medical Group Management Association reports that more than 50 percent of physicians are now employed by organizations affiliated with health systems. In some specialties, like cardiology, that is closer to 75 percent. Given the rapid increase in the number of physicians that have chosen this model, does that mean this is the right choice? How do you decide?
A Trend that Continues to Grow
A survey back in 2014 by The Physicians Foundation discovered that 53% of physicians described themselves as hospital or medical group employees, up from 44% in 2012. Today, physicians are progressively joining hospitals or larger, consolidated medical groups while solo physician practices are declining. Physicians receive many benefits, such as negotiating leverage, profitability, lifestyle, and improved quality of patient care in the group practice setting.
The study found that physicians cited gaining leverage with health plans as the main benefit of joining a group practice, while gaining economies of scale, especially for purchasing, management and information systems was the second benefit. Acquiring leverage with hospitals and profit from auxiliary services, predominantly operating outpatient diagnostic and surgery centers were also cited as favorable benefits.
The growth of the group practice movement stemmed from increasing medical specialization, availability of new drugs and growth in technology. Thus, it was no longer possible for independent physicians to provide everything the patient needed for good health. Group practice trends show that group practices have increased over time, and will continue to steadily expand. More specifically, it has been shown there is an increase in large group practices, and a decline in smaller group practices. Also, a higher proportion of physicians are members of a medical group and the average size of group practices is rising.
Choosing the right physician group is an important decision in your clinical development and personal well-being. For more than 32 years, Medical Anesthesia Consultants Medical Group, Inc. (MAC) has been recognized as Northern California’s premier perioperative care provider, delivering high-quality patient care at some of the most respected hospitals and health systems in the region.
As an Envision Physician Services provider, MAC physicians enjoy the autonomy and culture of a local group while being supported at the national level with a comprehensive suite of clinical and operational resources.
Physician Group Practice Trends: A Comprehensive Review. hospital-medical-management.imedpub.com
The Pros and Cons of Private Practice Versus Hospital Employment. physicianspractice.com
Group Practice vs Private Practice. doctorsbusinessnetwork.com