Group aims to bolster independent practices and stop corporatization of medicine
Private equity groups continue to invest heavily in health care and physician groups – a trend that many physicians decry as the “corporatization” of medicine. To fight these trends, the Association for Independent Medicine has been formed to help support independent medical groups by providing information, education, and political advocacy.
There has been a shift away from patient-care physicians working at physician-owned groups over the past eight years. According to a report by the American Medical Association, for the first time, less than 50% of patient-care physicians work for physician-owned practices (49.1% down from 54% in 2018). The decrease is being attributed to mergers and acquisitions, a change in the type of practice being chosen by younger physicians, and physician job changes.
The non-profit Association for Independent Medicine was founded in October 2022 by four anethesia medical groups on the principle that maintaining physician control of health care decision-making results in the highest quality of care for patients and most efficient use of healthcare resources.
The Association for Independent Medicine is open to all medical specialty groups needing support, especially those seeing an increase in targeting by private equity. The group plans to support practices with assistance like guidance on best practices for contract negotiation, sharing group management strategies, or simply networking.
“Our first charge as physicians is to provide patient care to the best of our abilities. When corporate medicine takes over, physicians lose their decision-making abilities, leading to a decrease in patient care options which may negatively impact outcomes,” said Marco Fernandez, MD, an anesthesiologist and president of Midwest Anesthesia Partners, a physician-owned group serving 23 sites throughout Chicagoland, in a statement. “Groups bought out by private equity are typically forced to follow the corporate owner’s guidelines set in place, which frequently include less time allowed for physicians to spend with each patient, reduced billing reimbursements by insurance companies and increased hours worked by physicians.”
Fernandez brought together the other founding member groups of AIM via social media discussions about corporate medicine and the negative impacts it has had. “Independent group ownership is becoming more difficult in the face of corporate medicine competition and the ridiculous salary offers from them that take potential candidates away from independent groups,” Fernandez said in a statement. “We hope AIM is a resource for physicians looking to join an independent practice, an education for residents to learn about the benefits of independent medicine and the negative realities of corporate medicine, and an influence in the industry for legislative change and physician and patient protection.”
More information about the Association for Independent Medicine can be found at www.associationforindependentmedicine.org.