The upholders of the Hippocratic oath are acting a lot like self-styled brokers lately, actively looking for buyers of their practices. Indeed, physicians are taking the initiative in hospital-based acquisitions of their practices, in a big way.
The latest evidence comes from a recent survey by Jackson Healthcare, the Atlanta-based healthcare staffing recruiter. When asked about physician practice acquisitions, 70% of healthcare leaders said doctors are approaching their hospitals, seeking to sell their practices. It's definitely not the hospitals taking the first steps in the courtship with physicians, as much as it is docs knocking on the door.
Physicians seeking hospital employment are setting the stage for this evolution in how healthcare is delivered, says Sheri Sorrell, market research manager for Jackson Healthcare.
"Physicians are approaching the hospitals and are seeking to sell," Sorrell said in an interview. "That's the number 1 reason why hospitals are acquiring physician practices."
The trend is expected to continue "at a rapid rate," Sorrell says. When asked about the disposition of acquisitions in 2012, 44% of hospitals closed the deal, while 56% said they didn't. Those hospitals hesitant about acquiring are more likely to be rural hospitals, Sorrell says. About 70% of hospitals that say they are not planning to acquire physician practices have 150 beds or less.
This year, 8% more hospitals – for a total of 52% - plan to acquire physical practices, and 48% said they will not. Jackson Health did not do a comparable survey in 2011, so year-over-year comparisons are not possible. A total of 118 participants completed the surveys, from November 1 through December 15, 2012.