Independent physicians who manage their own practices tend to have a closer connection with their patients and experience lower burnout rates. Although independent physicians are considering employment options in larger numbers, overall those providers are typically more content in their own practices. The benefits of independent physicians and practices include:
Autonomy. An independent physician can see as many or as few patients during the day as make sense for the viability of the practice and for the well-being of the patient. The patient sweet spot for an independent physician varies greatly, depending on the complexity of the problems the provider needs to address with each visit and on the practice’s finances and infrastructure.
Lower burnout rate. That autonomy contributes to a lower burnout rate among independent physicians. In fact, according to one major study, “13.5 percent of physicians in the small practices studied had experienced symptoms of burnout, compared to a national rate of 54.4 percent.”
Improved level of patient engagement. Independent physicians also have more control over the amount of time they spend with each patient and the communication that happens after hours with those patients. The doctor-patient relationship is significantly enhanced in an independent practice.
Opportunity to collaborate with other physicians. Independent physicians who want to collaborate with other providers, to join forces for the purposes of negotiating contracts, for example, have options available to them. Independent Physician Associations (IPAs) and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) give providers group power while enabling them to maintain their autonomy.
Focus on providing quality care, not on corporate priorities. Another major study found that “small, physician-owned practices while providing a greater level of personalization and responsiveness to patient needs, have a lower average cost per patient, fewer preventable hospital admissions, and lower readmission rates than larger, independent- and hospital-owned practices.”
Anecdotal as well as statistical research has shown the many benefits of independent physicians and practices, that contribute to more satisfied providers, successful practice management, and higher quality care for patients.