The Independent Physician Practice: an Endangered Species?

My uncle was a solo practitioner in a small town in Italy in the 60’s. He knew everybody and was well respected as a physician and a member of the community. Often, he was paid in exchange for his services with fresh eggs and chickens. However, gradually over time, this relationship became more and more complicated and frustrating by the introduction of a “middleman” – the insurance companies. Most recently, hospitals have entered into the mix and are further influencing the doctor-patient relationship. Physicians have all felt uneasy and tired of trying to conform to these systems, and in the last year or so, many have decided to become employed by or affiliated with a hospital system. 

Few groups have continued to maintain their independence through constant changes. In Louisville, All Women Ob/Gyn is one of the few gynecology groups that have done just that. A “physician owned practice” has the unique ability to provide every patient personal attention, and maintaining independence in their referral pattern, choosing the most appropriate expert in each field regardless of hospital affiliation. In addition, we offer a variety of auxiliary services in-office, including mammograms, ultrasound, bone densitometry and other procedures at one location. This provides patients with greater convenience and reduces the cost of health care to individuals as these procedures performed in-office have lower out-of-pocket costs than the same procedure coded at a hospital level, which are notoriously more expensive. Independent physician owned practices are an endangered species, but we feel that it is in the best interest of the patients to support these groups and keep them viable, because they are the strongest advocates of efficient, cost effective and personalized women’s healthcare.