As a physician, having an independent or small practice has its advantages, such as the autonomy and control, however the medical landscape is changing and the benefits from medical practice integration is proving to be an extremely beneficial and viable option for physicians. Medical practice integration provides for a more collaborative environment leading to quality and cost-effectiveness improvements as well as improved economies of scale making it easier to raise capital sufficient to implement health information technology.
Physicians tend to be hesitant of integration because of how expensive and time consuming the transition appears to be. However, there are a number of lawful integrative collaboration options that offer flexibility. Despite integration, many times physicians will still be able to remain in their local practice setting, oversee day-to-day operations, stay rewarded based on individual productivity and continue to work with the same primary care physicians and specialists.
It is clear that integration has numerous financial benefits, however it is not effective for everybody, and individual circumstances should be evaluated before making the leap. The decision should be based on an assessment of the relevant market, the capabilities and compatibility of the participants, and the business prospects of the combined entity. It is important to look at your solo or small practice as a business owner and make sure that the benefits of integration with other physicians makes sense to you.
Medical practice integration, however, can sometimes raise antitrust issues. This is because when physicians merge together they are effectively able to jointly negotiate fees, and the decreased competition is beneficial to them.
When physicians decide to integrate they are entering into one medical group in which the participating physicians have complete unity of interest. The resulting merged firm controls all of the resources of the combined practices such that none of the participating physicians compete with one another. This makes it extremely important to know and trust the physicians that you are looking to go into business with.