Independent physicianFor hundreds of years, patients have trusted their doctors to guide them in making health care decisions. This is a role that we, as physicians, prize. Most of us entered the medical profession because it offered a way to help people in a direct, tangible way.

Unfortunately, financial pressures can erode that trust.

Practicing medicine independently in the U.S. has become prohibitively expensive. The burdens of running a private practice have driven many physicians to give up their independent practices to become hospital employed. But what seems like a simple solution to help ease financial woes actually affects doctors’ ability to practice with the degree of autonomy they had in private practice, where they were able to freely refer and advise patients about where to undergo medical tests and treatment.

Hospitals reap the benefits. Patients pay the bills.

Purchasing private practices provides a pipeline of patients—and money—to many large, urban hospital facilities and their specialists. Need an MRI? Head over to the hospital. Need outpatient surgery? It will be performed at the hospital. Need a referral? You’ll likely be directed to a specialist employed by the hospital. As a consequence, you may be paying more, perhaps much more, for those services than is necessary.

Even when these options don’t make the best economic sense for you, a hospital-owned doctor may be under pressure from his employer to ensure other services you need are provided “in-house,” keeping revenue within the hospital system. It goes without saying that hospitals provide a valuable community service, particularly in an emergency. However, that service comes at a great cost when highly paid hospital executives have more influence over your care than your doctor does.

Independent doctors work for their patients.

If you have an independent physician, YOU are the employer. Your independent physician’s only concern is getting you the best care. She can help you find care solutions that are both economical and of high quality.

That’s why we encourage you to “think independent” if you’re shopping for a new doctor.  You’ll be glad you did.