The slow death of private practices

Doctors have been bemoaning changes in the practice of medicine for years and with good reason. It’s harder and harder to make a go of it in private practice. In recent years our area has lost several small practices — Hal Grotke’s Redwood Family Practice closed, Dr. Garcia retired, Teresa Marshall’s solo office shut its doors, Eureka Internal Medicine transitioned to Humboldt Medical Specialists (which then became St. Joseph Hospital Medical Group) and Beverly Copeland relocated to Ashland.

As I was writing this, Dr. Windham announced that he is ceasing the provision of primary care at his small office. Unfortunately, young, freshly trained physicians are not arriving here to take their places. Most recent graduates take positions with large organizations that can offer loan repayment funds, regular hours and a steady salary. It’s no wonder new physicians want to be employees with reasonable pay and limited hours. If you are not working for yourself, there is no reason to be overworked.

The days when a doctor could show up in a small town, rent an office and hang out a shingle, sadly, is pretty much over. The knowledge base necessary to run a small business is not part of medical education, and few new graduates want to tackle such a task. In addition to business basics, running a medical office requires much more. One must follow a myriad of regulations surrounding everything from patient confidentiality to the inclusion of specific features in your electronic health record to successfully navigating the Rubik’s cube of medical billing. Large organizations retain staff that specialize in human resources, bookkeeping, medical billing and so forth. In a small practice, one person has to learn many different duties which can be a daunting prospect. Employment law is complicated and detailed. Our practice got fined once because we waited a few days to pay a terminated employee instead of cutting that last check right away.

Continue reading …

Your patients are rating you online: How to respond. Manage your online reputation: A social media guide. Find out how.

Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (No Ratings Yet)
Explore the Archive