Death of Private Practice "Exaggerated"

Despite an expected downward trend in profitability, independent physicians are looking to stay that way and not sell out, according to a new survey.

Despite an expected downward trend in profitability, talk of the death of private practice may be exaggerated, according to the results of a new survey.

The first Practice Profitability Index (PPI) survey of more than 5,000 physicians by CareCloud and QuantiaMD revealed that respondents were more likely to foresee a downward trend (36%) in profitability in the year ahead than a positive on (22%).

Declining reimbursements lead concerns, closely followed by rising costs, the Affordable Care Act, coding/documentation changes and EHR adoption. According to the survey results, four of the top five financial challenges are government related, with rising costs (e.g. supplies, staff) as the one exception.

“Some of the greatest challenges highlighted from our PPI survey stem from the gap between changes underway at a systemic level in health care and their real-world impact on the daily lives of physicians, staff and patients,” Albert Santalo, CareCloud’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Cardiologists have a more pessimistic view on profitability with half saying their trend will be “somewhat” or “very” negative. Overall, 36% of physicians said their profitability trend for the next year would be “somewhat” or “very” negative. Meanwhile, 30% said profitability will stay the same and 12% aren’t sure.

Contrary to many other reports and surveys, the PPI revealed that the independent physicians still around today aren’t looking to get acquired by bigger practices or hospitals.

“Of 2,094 respondents who own their own practice, only 11% are ‘actively’ looking to sell — joining 10% who say that they already have, due to profit challenges,” according to the report.

Solo practitioners are the least likely to want to sell their practice, with 65% saying they aren’t looking to do so and only 6% actively pursuing a sale. In fact, it is larger practices that are more likely to want to sell.

Physicians in Texas, California and Massachusetts are the most committed to staying independent, while those in Florida, New York and Illinois are the most interested in selling their practices.

See the full results.