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Doctors leaving private practice in droves, joining hospitals, report says

Only one-in-three physicians will remain independent by the end of 2016, Accenture predicts.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Financial pressures are causing a growing number of U.S. doctors to leave private practice for hospital employment, according to a new report by Accenture.Financial pressures are causing a growing number of U.S. doctors to leave private practice for hospital employment, according to a new report by Accenture.

Financial pressures are causing a growing number of U.S. doctors to leave private practice for hospital employment, according to a new report by Accenture.

Only one-in-three physicians will remain independent by the end of 2016, Accenture predicts.

The number of independent physicians has declined over the last several years, from 57 percent in 2000 to 49 percent in 2005, according to the report released July 29 by the consulting firm.

Accenture predicts that next year this number will drop further, to 33 percent. This represents a 10 percent decline from Accenture's 2012 report.

[Also: Physician pay higher in 2014, though women earn less]

Thirty-six percent of physicians cited reimbursement pressures; and 23 percent gave overhead costs, as the reason.

More than a quarter of independent doctors, 26 percent, are choosing to opt-out of Medicaid, according to the report.  Another 15 percent are opting out of health exchange plans and 3 percent out of Medicare.

Other independent physicians are experimenting with low-staffing models. Twenty-two percent are reducing support personnel and 21 percent said they were extending office hours. 

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Independent physicians are also creating new business models to remain competitive. Nearly one-fifth, or 17 percent, of those surveyed are participating in accountable care organizations and 7 percent are aligning to patient-centered medical home models.

One-fourth, 24 percent are considering ancillary or subscription-based services to generate new revenue streams over the next three years.

This was Accenture's third analysis of the U.S. market for independent physicians. The findings were based on an online survey of 194 independent physicians.

Twitter: @SusanMorseHFN

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