A startling trend over the past few decades has led to a record low number of independent physician practices in this country. This means certain things for the physicians themselves, but what does it mean for the overall state of healthcare in America? What does it mean for the patient experience? Let’s take a look at the difference a community level/ independent physicians can provide.
Why America Needs Independent Physicians
1) Decreased Healthcare Cost
According to a recent study, hospital-affiliated physicians’ expenditures were as much as 14.6% more annually PER PATIENT than their independent counterparts. This increased cost to insurance providers is often passed on to the consumer in the form of higher insurance premiums.
2) Increased Patient Experience
Most independent physicians’ offices will not have you walk half a mile through the parking lot, find your way to the fourth floor, and then pass through a series of receptionists and medical assistants you have never seen before. At an independent physician’s clinic, you will get to know your entire care team, will have more time on average with your provider, and will receive personalized care that is simply not as common within the stringent hospital system.
3) Community Engagement
Independent physicians understand that their business rises and falls as their community does. Because of that, community-level physicians are more likely to focus on building up their community, providing the best experience possible to keep current patients happy, and putting their money to work locally instead of padding the bottom line.
Hospitals have their place in the healthcare system. However, the trend towards abolishing local, independent, community providers could soon make hospitals the only choice. Increased cost, decreased patient experience, and a low level of community engagement are all potential results if this is not reversed. So, support your local physician when you can and help healthcare help your community.
Rossiter L. F. (2018). Expenditures and Quality: Hospital- and Health System-Affiliated Versus Independent Physicians in Virginia. Southern medical journal, 111(10), 597–600. https://doi.org/10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000876