Physician practices of all kinds have been hard hit by the financial havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic, and doctors in independent practice—often called private practice—have been no exception.
How much the pandemic has contributed to the longer-term shift away from private practice remains murky, but that trend has become clearer with time.
Most U.S. physicians providing patient care are now working outside doctor-owned medical practices, according to data the AMA collected from 3,500 physicians in the 2020 Physician Practice Benchmark Survey conducted last fall.
In November 2020, the AMA House of Delegates voted to create a new section—the AMA Private Practice Physicians Section (AMA-PPPS). The section seeks to preserve the freedom, independence and integrity of private practice so that physicians who choose to practice in that setting can provide compassionate personal medical care for their patients.
This year, the AMA has offered many great resources to help private practice physicians thrive, such as excellent tools to:
- Integrate behavioral health care into practice.
- Find—and keep—the right medical assistants.
- Start the journey to advance health equity.
- Take advantage of telehealth to enable remote care.
The AMA and Mathematica have also co-published a white paper, “Supporting and Promoting High-Performing Physician-Owned Private Practices: Voices from the Front Lines” (PDF) that reports the findings from a qualitative study conducted to define, analyze and assess the factors that create and sustain high-performing, physician-owned private practices.
Below, read AMA news profiles of seven outstanding physician private practices whose leaders took the time to share how this mode of practice has served them—and their patients—so well.
- Internist M. Zudhi Jasser, MD, chairs the new AMA-PPPS and says doctors deserve a wide array of vibrant practice options.
- Omar Maniya, MD, made the switch from the front lines of COVID-19 care in New York City to running a small primary care private practice. Learn more and watch Dr. Maniya’s “AMA Moving Medicine” interview.
- Sumi Sexton, MD, and seven colleagues in family medicine private practice find freedom to adjust to COVID-19’s major challenges.
- Pediatric neurologist Sonal G. Patel, MD, wanted to leave the hospital system for independent practice, but felt daunted by her next steps.
- Barbara Hummel, MD, decides how many patients to see and for how long. It’s the kind of autonomy she dreamed of when pursuing medicine in her 40s.
- Christine Sinsky, MD, says her private practice setting was a blessing in disguise and set her on a path to helping doctors transform their daily work.
- After decades building primary care clinics as an employed physician, AMA member Jim Milford, MD, finds more satisfaction with his own private practice.
More help from the AMA
Among the outstanding resources from the AMA is guidance to help physicians:
- Get started in private practice.
- Improve business operations and workflow.
- Improve their patients’ experience.
AMA research illustrates that there is a wide variety of practice types, sizes and ownership arrangements in which physicians work. Due to this diversity, no single practice type, size, or ownership structure can or should be considered the typical physician practice.