Why Private Practice?
Historically, the practice model in radiology was private, physician-owned groups. This dynamic has experienced rapid shifts over the past 20-years. Today, almost 70% of physicians are employed by hospital systems or other corporate entities.1 This trend is fueled by a variety of factors, including insurer consolidation, capital expenses, shifting workforce demographics, legislation, and reimbursement.2
Why is IIC going against the grain?
Undeniably, an autonomous platform brings fresh ideas and perspectives which allow physicians and systems to place the quality of care in the center for a greater degree of personalization and responsiveness to the patient’s needs; all while staying efficient, decisive, proactive, and agile in the ever-changing landscape of medicine. With our autonomy, we advance the mission of our hospital partners while insulating unique and diverse communities from the impacts of radiology commercialization, including:
- A displacement of providers who live and work in the communities they have uniquely adapted to serve
- An erosion of patient trust and satisfaction3
- Remote services provided by physicians of unknown credentials and high turnover rates
- Short-sighted decisions made upon fiduciary responsibility to shareholders
- Physician burnout leading to patient safety events4
- Hospital administration losing coordination with providers
- The known externalities of healthcare commercialization as addressed before Congressional Committees in 20185
- False claims from multinational specialty groups that consolidated models result in welfare-enhancing efficiencies6; while merging parties often cite this motive, there is little evidence that common ownership produces more integrated care let alone that this care is better or cheaper than care delivered by affiliations of providers7
Advantages of Private Practice
Best for the Patient
Americans are most likely to associate independent, doctor-owned medical practices with personalized, patient-focused care.8 It’s clear that the autonomy of small practices and the associated preservation of the doctor-patient relationship delivers important reassurance to the patient that physicians are acting in their best interest. Evidence validates what patients suspect: physician-owned practices have lower per-beneficiary spend 3,9, fewer preventable hospital admissions10, and lower readmission rates6; all while providing greater levels of personalization and responsiveness to patient needs. Our close-to-the-ground approach enables additional layers of investment such as developing radiology-specific metrics tailored to our patient populations, engagement in screening programs, and exam oversight.
Best for the Hospital
Independent radiologists are the skeleton key to value-based care. Our hospital partners enjoy longstanding working relationships with our radiologists, who share in their dedication to the community and the Hospital Mission. Significant noninterpretive value is delivered through participation in staff functions such as dyad models, radiation safety, patient consultations on imaging and biopsy results, and engagement in teaching opportunities. Staff Radiologists have on site physical presence, with ongoing interaction with patients, while fully engaged with staff members. Furthermore, private practice physicians are less likely to terminate their careers early. With higher physician satisfaction, administration avoids the high cost of physician turnover, lost quality, diminished productivity, and lowered morale.11
Best for the Community
By living and working in the communities they serve, private practice physicians are uniquely qualified to address the social determinants of health shaping their patients’ day-to-day lives with first-hand experience, participation in public health community forums, and clinical and support services which are tailored according to the public’s needs. With an anticipated physician shortage facing our healthcare community and many physicians preferring private practice over hospital or corporate employment, private practice also serves as an important recruiting tool for attracting critical physician talent into communities. Our radiologists are on the front lines, participating in public health community forums.
Best for the Individual Physician
Autonomy directly correlates with physician job satisfaction. 70% of medical professionals reported being happier after switching to private practice.12 Attracting physicians is important, but equally so is the ability to retain them. Non-private practice physicians experience burnout more significantly than their independent counterparts, and many studies suggest loss of autonomy is a core component. 11,13-15 Burnout has adverse outcomes on physician well-being, patient care, and the health care system; it can lead to turnover and subsequent disruptions to continuity of care, a reduction in empathy, and increased medical errors.11,16 Physicians in private practice are the key decision-makers, empowering them to determine what works best for themselves and their patients while sheltering them from additional deterioration of independence. More control of their environment frees them up to focus on strengths and passions which nurture professional development such as networking, community building, and leadership opportunity.
Best for the Medical Practice
90% of early-career radiologists prefer to work for independent private practices.17 With autonomy, group leaders may shape their work culture, negotiate contract terms, maintain more flexibility in hours, limit outside interference in clinical decision making, nurture entrepreneurship, and centralize their teams for close collaboration and social support. This means there is more opportunity to restore joy and meaning in the practice of medicine.
The key to autonomy is acknowledging the factors which drive consolidation. That’s where IIC comes in!