Examining Misconceptions about Corporate Giants and Primary Care Physicians
(From Advisory Board, 5/25/2023)
The New York Times recently published an article titled “Corporate Giants Buy Up Primary Care Physician Practices at Rapid Pace,” highlighting the trend of large corporations acquiring primary care physician (PCP) clinics. However, there are nuances the Times didn’t include that might help provide full context to this trend.
Advisory Board broke down what they claim are “misconceptions” about the trend of large corporations buying PCP practices.
Misconception No. 1: PCPs have a lowly status
Advisory Board says the article presents a “tone” that primary care has a “lowly status,’ and that it wouldn’t make sense for corporate owners to be eyeing such an unglamorous profession. On the contrary, corporate owners recognize the importance of PCPs and aim to transition to value-based care (VBC), which relies on primary care.
Misconception No. 2: Corporate ownership exacerbates burnout
It argues that burnout and administrative burden in medicine are systemic issues, not solely caused by increased corporate ownership. Corporate ownership models focused on VBC may alleviate some of these problems by offering resources to reduce administrative burden, implementing holistic care teams, and promising to uphold physician autonomy.
Misconception No. 3: Corporate ownership erodes doctor-patient relationships
While ownership models can potentially impact these relationships, the essential factors to consider are the tools, resources, and standards that owners integrate into all their practices that may support or erode these relationships.
Misconception No. 4: With corporate ownership comes a loss of autonomy
The reality is that employers, including corporate owners, are actively winning physician acquisition by offering various dimensions of autonomy, such as clinical, schedule, and strategic autonomy. It is essential for employers to reevaluate the autonomy they offer and have specific conversations about trade-offs.
Misconception No. 5: Ownership undermines the practices of medicine
The Times’ article challenges the assumption that ownership undermines the practices of medicine but should instead focus on what constitutes good care delivery and whether corporate ownership positively or negatively affects it.
A key takeaway is not to conflate ownership with the structural challenges in healthcare but to use this to invest in solutions that enable the best care for patients and create a supportive environment for doctors, regardless of who employs them.