What Makes Private Practice Physicians Different from Hospital Employee Physicians?

May 26, 2017


The headlines don’t stop. “More and More Doctors Choosing to Leave Private Practice.” “Private Practice Physicians Are a Dying Breed.” There have been major changes to the healthcare industry in the past decade, and private practices have been bearing the brunt with many doctors choosing hospital employment. Nevertheless, not everyone has gone the salaried route. A special kind of person sticks it out when the future of healthcare is uncertain. So how exactly do those private practice physicians differ from their salaried counterparts?

1. First and foremost, physicians in private practice must have an entrepreneurial spirit.

They are more than doctors; they are business owners. Private practice physicians are not just consumed with serving patients. They think about overhead, marketing and making payroll. While running your own business is significantly more work, for those who are natural entrepreneurs, it’s near-impossible to quench that spirit.

2. Lack of patience for bureaucracy.

Dr. Smith’s printer breaks. If Dr. Smith works for a hospital, he needs to submit a request for a new one with the department handles that. That request has to be approved by his supervisor as well as some other people. Meanwhile, to move his old printer, he calls another department, which will put the removal on its schedule. Once the printer is delivered, it’s up to the IT department to hook the printer up to Dr. Smith’s computer.

Now, let’s imagine that Dr. Smith has his own private practice. He walks over to his office manager and says “this printer is broken, here’s my credit card to buy a new one.” The office manager takes care of things, and a new printer is on his desk that afternoon. For the private practice physician, the first scenario is something of nightmares. When there is an issue with something, he wants it solved without many obstacles in the way.

3. They are particular about their staff.

For a doctor who prefers doing the hiring and firing, working for a hospital is not going to be ideal. Physicians in private practice have close working relationships with everyone on their staff from the receptionist to the nurse. They can communicate with a gesture or a shrug. At a hospital, the hiring and firing is done through the HR Department, and doctors don’t necessarily have a choice in who will support them and their patients. Clear communication is key as they are not always working with the same people.

4. They like to choose the resources that best serve their needs.

At a hospital, other departments choose every piece of technology and every brand of tongue depressor. Don’t like the EMR your hospital chose? Too bad! You have to use it anyway. In contrast, the private practice physician chooses the systems he or she would like to use. M*Modal’s Fluency Direct is perfect for practices, because users can choose how and what offerings are implemented to will best match the physician’s workflow.

5. They are there because they are dedicated to their community.

Many practices are located in rural areas where there aren’t any hospitals or health systems nearby to serve that community. The local private practice is one of the few places people can go to manage their health. Many doctors intentionally choose to serve these smaller communities where they make the biggest impact.

All doctors got into medicine to heal. Some are more comfortable in a hospital environment while others work hard to remain independent. Every doctor and doctor’s office will differ stylistically, and it’s up to the patient to decide what works for him or her.