Every student of medicine, after completing his education and training, has to pursue a career. The career can be at a public hospital or can go for a fellowship. If you have been trained enough and are qualified, you can start your own independent practice as well.
Independent practices are sometimes the career goals of medical practitioners. They can be personal preferences also. On the flipside, it is a dream of a medical student to have his own independent practice one day.
Independent practice by name means any kind of practice where any healthcare professional can conduct their practice without being under the supervision of any other health practitioner after getting his registration number.
There are many advantages or disadvantages of medical independent practices. Let’s have a look at what is meant by independent practices and how they operate:
Independent practices as described by the name – are a practice in which a person opens up alone or solely without any partner.
Independent practice is the one that does not have any partners or does not have any kind of employment affiliation with other medical practicing organizations. This is a very common model of practice but with the passage of time, it is becoming less popular and losing its charm. It is still preferred by the internists and is a dream of any medical student but it is an expensive dream to be realized.
Independent practices usually consist of a small staff and have a very small clientele or patient base. The main reason for such small staff and fewer patients is because of the autonomy of small practice as there is only one physician and everything revolves around him.
The practice depends solely upon that physician as he is responsible for its growth, design, and development along with the level of patients he can provide treatment to. This is why it’s an independent practice but at a small level.
A small clientele base allows an opportunity for the physician to develop closely. The doctor can develop personal relationships with the patients and the limited staff also provides a unique and friendly way of care.
On the other hand, one of the difficult tasks is to run the independent practice on your own. The entire burden lies on your shoulders. You need to make arrangements for any kinds of tests or checkups which are mandatory for the treatment.
The doctor is responsible for providing any kind of medical care which may include an arrangement of other paramedical staff or even weekend coverage for the patients. He also has to look after the business enterprise side of the independent practice.
All the paperwork needs to be done by the doctor himself. This includes the agreements and documentation with the insurers, the documentation of the compliances, and also managing and dealing with other significant regulations required to run a business.
One of the disadvantages of independent practice is that they are often considered at financial risk because of the costs incurred of running a business such as covering the malpractice, hiring of resources, small patient base, lack of referrals, patient allegiances, and insurance issues, etc.
The financial risk involved is way greater than anticipated at the beginning because it takes time for a business to get established and running in an area.
The location of independent practice can also affect the success rate of the solo business. Rural areas and suburban areas are most suitable for medical independent practice as there is a lot of medical need and less competition over medical resources. Everybody knows everybody so it makes it fairly easy to open up an independent practice and run it successfully.
Who is an independent physician?
An independent physician is the one who owns a practice solely of his own and has the right of making all the decisions regarding the practice. There are various benefits of being an independent physician. Some of them are:
- Full control over the financial and management side of the independent practice.
- Easily grow without any hindrance and compete in the market
- Having the ability to practice medicine and run an independent practice on your own terms.
- Ability to make your own strategic and informed decisions
- Stay connected and integrated with large tertiary hospitals while staying independent on your own terms.
- The ability to thrive through the market with relevant changes.
What are independent physicians important?
Independent physicians are important because they are habitual in becoming intimate and personal with the patient. Healthcare solely depends upon the trusting relationship between physicians and patients.
Patients flock over those medical professionals who provide excellent service and make the patients believe that they are valued.
Simple routine work such as checkups, routine appointments, and other regular work is done with immense care then it shows great personal vulnerability and needs. This is why independent physicians are so important because they willingly spend more time with their patients in order to understand their concerns and needs. This time spent together is the core foundation of a strong relationship.
Are independent physicians different from other doctors?
Yes, almost 70% of the independent physicians are specialists in their specific field of healthcare. They specialize in their given field and practice it in their local community to provide the best healthcare treatment to the community. Working in their own community on their own terms also enables them to remain independent and maintain their independent practices.
There is a lot of freedom that the independent physicians enjoy which the other doctors working at other tertiary organizations cannot practice.
Independent physicians can:
- Work freely in all the healthcare systems’
- They can offer all kinds of treatment to their patients
- They can refer patients for further treatment anywhere suitable if necessary
- They can freely give their patients medical options at any given time without asking anyone else.
Independent physicians are capable of providing their patients the ability to select a different array of health professionals rather than limiting them to the doctors of only one corporation. The patients can select the health professional according to their needs and choice.
Independent physicians make sure that they provide the best possible care to their patients.
Future of medical independent practices
The future of medical independent practices is not very promising. The economy and the growing competition keep on pushing physicians towards getting employed in large comprehensive practices and tertiary systems. The pressure is so grave that the newly licensed medical practitioners might crumble under it if they do not let go of the ambition of getting their own independent practice
The government keeps on imposing new regulations causing the reimbursements to decrease. This makes it very exhausting for a small independent practice to keep on running profitably for the long haul.
Independent practices look too good to be true with their greater pay rate and the higher autonomy but it has become increasingly hard to achieve that. It will take a lot of ambition and forth planning to have an independent practice of your own in these trying times.
Just as it is said that freedom is never free, the same goes for independence it is never easy. You need to work hard to let your dream come true of having an independent practice of your own even though it is fast declining and more medical experts opt for working with tertiary organizations and large organizations.