Despite current trends, some physicians say private practice isn't going anywhere.
Physicians are less likely to work in private practice now than they were 10 years ago, according to an analysis of physician practice agreements from the American Medical Association. However, physicians who continue to practice privately still see the value in doing so.
"I'm a direct primary care family physician, and our future looks great," James Tinsley, MD, family physician at Lighthouse Direct Primary Care in Newport News, Va., told Becker's. "I opened my practice in 2019, six months before COVID-19. We were the first direct primary care practice in our area. There are four now. Even with the laws against free market medicine … we are still growing and thriving as are other practices. My patients get same/next day 30- to 60-minute visits and unlimited visits without a copay. We also shop for medical care and make it affordable for them. As a reward, I get to be the physician I always wanted to be. I truly love my job."
One big draw to private practice is the level of autonomy physicians have. This allows them the flexibility to practice in the way they best see fit.
"I have this flexibility to do what I think is right," Calvin Wong, MD, a cardiologist at Pacific Cardiology in Honolulu, told Becker's. "I'm not obligated to send the patient to the hospital that employs me. I can send who I think is the best doctor for that particular patient … so therefore it's a question of patient fit. The cornerstone of independent practice is the doctor-patient relationship. In Hawaii, which is very multicultural, if I have a Chinese-speaking patient from China, I'm gonna send him to this Chinese-speaking doctor in Chinatown. I can match the patient to the background."
There are several opportunities for private practices to be successful regardless of the current trend of physicians moving toward the employment model. One of those opportunities is partnering with insurance companies directly.
"The growing discourse between hospitals and insurance companies has provided a sizable opportunity for private practice groups across the country," Taif Mukhdomi, MD, interventional pain physician at Pain Zero in Columbus, Ohio, told Becker's. "Private practice has the chance to partner with insurance companies directly. Through competitive rates and specialized care, private practice groups can be an asset to health insurance companies by contracting together, building on each other's needs and providing dedicated care to health insurance members at a fraction of the cost in a hospital setting."