Many doctors are leaving small practices for larger health care systems in part because of the cost involved in meeting federal requirements for electronic health record implementation, according to a report released Wednesday by consulting firm Accenture, eWeek reports.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
After surveying 204 primary care physicians and specialists, Accenture predicted that the percentage of physicians who practice independently will drop from 57% in 2000 to 36% in 2013 (Horowitz, eWeek, 11/1).
The report found that:
- 61% of surveyed physicians cited business operations as a reason for choosing hospital employment over private practice; and
- 53% cited EHR requirements as a reason for leaving private practice (Accenture release, 10/31).
Health IT Costs Could Play a Role
Kaveh Safavi -- managing director for Accenture's North America healthy industry group -- said that business expenses, such as the cost of health IT systems, are leading doctors to join larger health care organizations. He added that large health systems often have the health IT expertise and capital that small practices lack.
Safavi said, "There's a whole level of forces, expertise and purchasing power that the small practices don't have," adding, "They can't simply choose not to have a practice that's digital or connected."
Small Practice Physicians Eye Telehealth
According to the report, physicians who remain in small practices likely will start offering new services like telehealth to maintain their profits.
Accenture predicted that the use of telehealth and other subscription-based services will increase threefold over the next three years (eWeek, 11/1).