Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2018 - 6

President's Message

Berks County Medical Society
Advocates for Physicians, both
Employed and Private Practice
Gregory T. Wilson, D.O.
President

A

notable trend in medicine is the growing number of physicians employed by hospitals or
other large healthcare organizations. This drift to physician employment is certainly on
display here in Berks County. I myself was a private practice cardiologist for 8 years until
becoming employed. In fact, as of July 2018, there will no longer be private-practice cardiologists
in Berks County, as Berks Cardiologists recently announced plans to merge with Penn State Health
this summer. The vast majority of the primary care providers in our area are employed. Nationally,
according to a 2017 survey by the AMA, less than 50% of physicians maintain ownership stake in a
medical practice.
There are several contributing factors to this shift in practice style. The increasing regulatory
requirements and administrative burden of maintaining a private practice are becoming unsustainable.
Reimbursement cuts and rising expenses on overhead and electronic medical records make
employment a more economically attractive option, particularly for newer physicians who often have
student debt. In addition, younger physicians are often looking to strike a
better work/lifestyle balance, which is generally felt to be more attainable in
an employed model. Such pressures have changed not only the landscape of
medicine in our region and beyond, but have also called into question the
role and relevance of medical society membership.
Membership in professional medical societies has decreased over
the last several years. The American Medical Association, the nation's
largest organization of physicians, has reported a decrease in membership.
According to The Physician's Foundation 2016 Survey of America's
Physicians, most doctors (78%) join their national specialty society and
state medical society, although this figure represents a slight decrease as
compared to 2014 (80%). The percentage of physician members of a state
medical society was stable at approximately 61% as compared to 2014.
Interestingly, solo practitioners were identified as being 20% more likely to
belong to their county and state medical society than their employed peers.
Less than half of the surveyed physicians (41%) reported membership to
their county medical society, a decrease from 64% in 2012.
Although many factors likely factor into declining societal membership,
the shift towards physician employment has been cited as a likely contributor. Tasks once managed by
local medical societies have been adopted by larger healthcare organizations. Historically, educational
opportunities such as CME events, practice management seminars, and medical reimbursement
information were distributed by regional medical societies. Currently, relevant educational programs
are often offered through health systems. In addition, establishing referral patterns and physician
networking were once viewed as vital reasons for seeking medical society membership. One could
argue that there is now less emphasis on developing strong interpersonal and professional relationships
because referrals are now generally kept within an employed physician's network and follow the

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2018

Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2018 - 1
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