Physician autonomy suffers in corporate-owned practices, affecting patient care quality negatively. NORC’s survey of 1,000 physicians highlights declining patient-provider relationships due to reduced autonomy and limited communication. Ownership changes, driven by financial focus, diminish clinical decision-making and restrict referrals outside the practice. While dissatisfaction with administrative involvement persists, physicians express contentment with certain practice aspects. The shift from private to employed positions is influenced by better work-life balance and declining reimbursements. Despite challenges like non-compete agreements, many physicians remain satisfied with their decision to transition.
Corporate ownership alterations in medical practices have raised concerns about physician autonomy and patient care quality. NORC’s survey, involving 1,000 physicians, examines the impact of ownership changes on healthcare delivery. Physician dissatisfaction with reduced autonomy and strained patient-provider relationships are significant outcomes. Ownership shifts often prioritize financial interests over clinical practices, affecting clinical decision-making and patient referrals. The study explores physicians’ concerns regarding administrative involvement and their motivations for transitioning from private to employed positions.
Ownership alterations, including hospital acquisitions, venture capital or private equity involvement, and affiliations with staffing agencies or health insurance companies, were found to have adverse effects on patient care quality, as highlighted by the majority of surveyed physicians. A staggering 60 percent observed a decline in patient care quality following these changes, with only a mere 18 percent reporting any improvement.
A prominent concern among physicians was the erosion of autonomy due to ownership shifts, impacting patient care significantly. Nearly 60 percent of respondents highlighted reduced autonomy as a key factor contributing to diminished care quality. Furthermore, almost half of the physicians (45 percent) reported strained relationships with patients, mainly attributed to diminished communication time and personalized care.
Physicians identified several issues stemming from ownership changes that affected patient-provider relationships negatively. These issues included restricted time for patient communication, deprioritization of patient preferences, limited autonomy for patients in decision-making, and disrupted care coordination.
Kelly Kenney, CEO of Physicians Advocacy Institute, stressed the critical nature of the patient-physician relationship within the healthcare system, emphasizing that corporate ownership often prioritizes financial outcomes over best clinical practices. This shift in focus can interfere with delivering optimal care.
The survey also highlighted challenges faced by physicians in clinical decision-making. Over half of the respondents cited the influence of treatment costs on their decisions, and a significant portion reported limited autonomy in clinical decisions and referrals outside their practice’s ownership structure. Additionally, various policies affecting treatment options and drug therapies were noted, indicating a need for greater autonomy in decision-making.
Employers were found to utilize incentives to encourage higher patient volumes, with a substantial majority of physicians reporting minimal involvement in administrative decisions. Many physicians were dissatisfied with workforce-related issues, including hiring processes, staff management, and administrative support.
Despite these challenges, physicians expressed satisfaction with certain aspects of their practices, such as medical equipment and technology. Reasons for transitioning from private to employed positions included better work-life balance, higher pay, and malpractice insurance, driven partly by declining reimbursements from government programs and private payers.
The survey revealed that a considerable number of physicians were required to sign non-compete agreements, and a significant percentage indicated a willingness to join unions if available. However, despite these hurdles, a majority of physicians reported satisfaction with their decision to move to employed positions.
Kelly Kenney emphasized the importance of keeping patients and physicians central to healthcare, urging healthcare leaders and policymakers to consider these insights in shaping future policies. Understanding the evolving landscape of employed physicians is crucial in ensuring the preservation of quality care and physician autonomy.
The survey underscores the adverse effects of corporate ownership on physician autonomy and patient care quality. Highlighting reduced autonomy’s impact on patient-provider relationships, it emphasizes the need to prioritize the patient-physician bond in healthcare. Corporate-driven agendas challenge clinical decision-making and limit referrals outside practice structures. While workforce-related dissatisfaction persists, physicians find contentment in certain practice aspects. Despite hurdles like non-compete agreements, a majority express satisfaction with transitioning to employed positions. The findings stress the imperative for policies that prioritize the patient-physician relationship and empower physicians in healthcare decision-making.