Independent Physicians

359This is my dad, Dr. John Asta, the dentist. He practiced in Pennsylvania for 42 years before retiring. He was a solo dentist who worked in a 2 chair office with a dental hygienist.

I’m the other Dr. Asta. I work in my office, and I take care of well babies, babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, and children and young adults on the pediatric ward at John Muir Medical Center.

Parents ask me if I work for the hospital. The answer is no. I admit patients at John Muir where I have medical staff privileges. Privileges are permission to admit and care for patients in the hospital. 

As an independent physician, I am not employed by a hospital or a medical system.

The way doctors practice medicine is changing. Once doctors ran practices—solo or as a group—and they had privileges at one or more hospitals.  Some doctors mostly worked in the hospital, like anesthesiologists and surgeons, which others in pediatrics, cardiology, internal medicine saw patients in their offices and took care of patients admitted to the hospital.

Over half the doctors in the United States are now employees. Some work for independent groups, but more are employees by hospital systems. These doctors often work in hospital-owned spaces where the hospital system may add a facility charge to patient visits. These extra charges can be costly, and they are controversial because they add to the cost of health care.

As an independent physician like my dad,  my office doesn’t charge facility fees. In the photograph he’s holding my niece who’s now quite a bit older and showing every sign of being the next doctor in the family.


About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at,, and She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit
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