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Across the nation, more and more physicians continue to trade the autonomy of private practice for the security of employment.

In a 2012 article in The Washington Post, Manoj Jain, MD, cited that reimbursement shifts, increased time handling billing and collections and the accelerating pace of hospitals purchasing physician practices were key drivers of this trend.

In a 2014 Wall Street Journal piece, Sandeep Jauhar, MD, wrote about the decline in physicians' status and satisfaction during the last half of the 20th century. He cited declining compensation, increased administrative hassles, fear of lawsuits and the loss of professional autonomy as key drivers of this trend toward employment.

From March to April 2015, Jackson Healthcare surveyed a national pool of physicians who had been in private practice, but traded it for employment. The purpose of the survey was to rank the top factors driving physicians away from private practice.

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Top 3 Reasons Physicians Left Private Practice

This year's survey findings remained consistent with Jackson Healthcare's 2014 and 2013 surveys. The top three reasons physicians cite for leaving private practice included:

  1. The overhead and cost of maintaining a medical practice was too high (33 percent)
  2. A desire to focus on the practice of medicine and patient care, rather than administrative hassles (27 percent)
  3. Reimbursement cuts (26 percent)

In addition to these three, there was a rise in physicians citing work-life balance (26 percent of those surveyed) as a key driver toward employment. For the first time, work-life balance entered the top three in a tie for third with reimbursement cuts.

Hospitals Are Actively Acquiring Medical Practices

In support of Dr. Jain's claim in 2012, physicians reported that they had actively been approached by hospitals and health systems to sell their practice. In fact, the percentage of those saying they left private practice because a hospital or health system offered to buy their practice has increased steadily over the past three years.

More Employed Physicians Are Former Practice Owners

Of the employed physicians we surveyed in 2012, only 40 percent had previously been in private practice. In 2015, that number increased to 56 percent. 

When asked if they are considering selling their medical practice, the majority of private practice physicians say they plan to remain where they are for the next twelve months. However, those who say they are considering leaving private practice cite high overhead and reimbursement cuts as their primary reasons.


 

To access all of Jackson Healthcare's physician reports, visit our Physician Practice Trends Resource Center.