In Physician Recruiting, Local Needs Trump National Trends

John Commins, June 20, 2011

Two national reports on physician recruiting and compensation confirm some of what we've suspected, but also show how complex and variable the process has become depending upon location and specialty. As in politics, it seems all healthcare is local.

Ken Hertz, a principal with the Medical Group Management Association's Healthcare Consulting Group, tells HealthLeaders Media it's hard to pinpoint many trends because healthcare is in a state of flux.

"There is a lot of change going on, but we are in a period where we are in the middle and it will probably be a year or so before the dust settles and [we see] what it all means," Hertz said. "You have the movement towards hospital and system employment. You have some aggregation of practices going on, but not as much as one would think. You've got private practices trying to get competitive with hospitals. You've got shifts in population, shifts in the age of physicians, general population-to-physician ratios, and then all of the healthcare reforms and accountable care organizations, and people are concerned that the sky is falling."

Merritt Hawkins' 2011 Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives, for example, confirms that the demand for primary care physicians continues to be strong, and that more physicians are becoming employees. The Irving, TX-based physician recruiter tracked more than 2,660 physician recruiting assignments nationwide from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. In that time, 56% of the physician search assignments featured jobs with hospitals, up from 23% five years ago. Only 2% of Merritt Hawkins' search assignments featured openings for independent, solo practitioners, down from 17% five years ago.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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