In the face of medical consolidation, many psychiatrists and mental health practitioners are faced with the question of whether to remain independent or to join a larger hospital. The decision is not an easy one to make. Evaluating the pros and cons of keeping your practice independent will help you make the right decision.
Pros to Remaining Independent
In an independent practice, you determine the quality of care you want to provide. You determine the number of patients to schedule every day. You determine the income you want to achieve each day. You set your priorities, no one else does. You also handle all the marketing to get patients to walk through your door.
Personal Relationship with Patients
An independent practice enables a doctor to form real relationships with patients. That’s difficult in a hospital context, especially large hospitals where turnover is frequent. For doctors who value their personal relationships with their patients, remaining independent is indeed the way to go.
You’re the Brand
In marketing your practice, you are the “face” for your practice. Your high standards, your great patient care, your reputation – all are your signatures. You have a history, you have longevity, in your location. If you have a solid reputation, you can leverage that in your marketing. You can take pride in your personal and professional accomplishment in maintaining an independent practice.
Cons to Remaining Independent
A doctor who works in his/her own practice will face some financial uncertainties. Your success will depend on patients walking through the door. A doctor working in a big hospital will get paid regardless of patient volume.
Accessibility to Technology
You may not have the resources to acquire the newest technology to serve your patients. Doctors working in a big hospital can access such technology simply because hospitals have better resources. With advancements in medical technology, partnering with a larger institution may help you remain cutting-edge.
Your practice is required to fulfil both government and medical agency requirements (like Medicare). Also, licenses must be updated. In a larger organization, the regulatory path is incorporated into the organization’s structure.
Which is the best option for you?
To close up shop and join a hospital — or to soar on as an independent– is the question that many practitioners will face in the coming years. It’s never an easy decision, but it’s only one you can make.
Discuss it with others who have walked this path. Join networks that help practitioners connect. Look closely at your challenges and the potential solutions. Whichever way you’re leaning, the decision is best made based on solid information. Then follow your heart.