Fewer and fewer physicians want to be like television’s Marcus Welby, practicing alone or with a partner, and fewer hospitals are seeking solo doctors for their communities. The reason is simple. To incorporate required technology, comply with regulations and participate in new delivery models such as accountable care organizations, physicians today are practically forced to be part of a larger practice or be employed by a hospital. Physicians are also seeking income and lifestyle predictability in a sometimes chaotic healthcare reform environment. Practicing on an island is increasingly difficult today, even for those physicians who prefer solo practice.
According to the American Medical Association, as of 2012, 60 percent of physicians worked in physician-owned practices. Twenty-three percent of physicians were in practices wholly or partially owned by a hospital, 5.6 percent were direct hospital employees and another 6.5 percent worked for nonprofit foundations (some of which may be hospital-affiliated). The changes can be attributed to new payment models necessitating closer collaboration between providers and hospitals. Additional factors driving hospitals to employ physicians include to:
- Bolster a service line.
- Address urgent and emergent patient needs, fulfilling the mission of the healthcare system.
- Help relieve physicians of complex administrative burdens.
- Satisfy state regulations, such as a minimum number of specialists at trauma centers and neonatal ICUs.
In the winter 2014 edition of The Source physician newsletter, read how two HealthTrust members are addressing physician employment.