By JEFF RAMOS
After spending years working hard to build your practice, a physicians group tells you that you can earn more with less stress if you join their group. What should you do? This is the question many private practices are asking themselves.
I recently had a conversation with a primary care physician with 30 years’ experience, who shared that the primary reason he was averse to switching his practice management and billing services was a fear of loss of control of his practice. Despite knowing there were many things his business could improve on, the thought of losing autonomy to make critical decisions for his business was daunting.
He was told by a large physician’s group that if he were to let them manage his business, he’d have more monthly referrals, not be charged for PM access fees, so long as he filed a minimum number of claims per month, and most importantly, he’d have more time off while the physicians group handled the operations of his business. That sounds great, right?
The truth is you don’t need to join a physician’s group to enjoy many of these benefits. Some of the pros of independent practice ownership include:
- Ability to hire and fire staff
- Setting your own hours
- Ability to diversify practice offerings
- Multiple doctors can be partners in a practice
- Use of vendor partners such as HR and billing at a manageable cost
- Drive business performance to meet your unique goals
However, for every pro there is a con. When you’re running an independent practice, all the nitty gritty details for the functions of your practice as a business are your sole responsibility. This include things like:
- Responsible for all office expenses
- Always on call and may need to cover for others
- Need to manage HR function
- Responsible for billing
Depending on your long-term goals and preferences, independent practice may not be right for you. There are just as many pros and cons to joining a physicians’ group as there are running an independent practice. Some of the advantages include:
- the ability to share office expenses
- affording more expensive state-of-the-art technologies
- taking time off with ample coverage from colleagues
- ability to learn additional skills from your colleagues
- all business functions such as HR and billing managed by group
Some of the disadvantages include:
- You may have your patients switch care to a colleague
- Office staff is divided among all of the doctors
- Partnership deals and overhead allotments can be complicated
- Levels of ownership
- Longer wait times for patients
- Less control of schedule
- Administrative demands are placed on physicians
- Productivity demands are placed on physicians, thus impacting compensation
The underlying message is that, depending on your long-term growth plans, levels of personal comfort managing a business, and desire to deliver the best possible care for your patients, should all be a factor in deciding whether private ownership or a physician’s group is right for you. The questions you should be asking yourself are simple: What do my patients need, what do I want from my practice today, and what do I want out of it tomorrow?
Jeff Ramos is the Owner of Elevate Medical Resources, an Orlando-based company providing back office support, compliance, billing, A/R Management and coding. Jeff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-217-5635