Of the hospitals surveyed, family practice and internal medicine are the primary targets in the acquisition of physician practices, Sorrell says, which is not surprising. While 54% of leaders reported interest in family practice for 2012, only 31% planned an acquisition of family practice in 2013.
In other specialties, only 2% to 6% of leaders reported acquisitions in areas such as radiology, cardiothoracic surgery, and gastroenterology in 2012. The leaders report even lower interest anticipated in 2013 for podiatry, sleep medicine, and sports medicine, at 1%.
It will be interesting to see the focus shift of specialties, Sorrell says. "Right now, it's what we all expected. They are acquiring family practices, primary care, internal medicine. It will be very interesting if they shift more toward specialties, focusing on their catchment areas," she said.
Of those hospitals acquiring physician practices, at least 30% say they plan on being involved in the formation of accountable care organizations, a figure that is "a little higher than I thought," Sorrell says.
She noted that 250 ACOs have been created, to date, with reports showing that there may be as many as 500 more organizations applying to be ACOs. That would account for 14% of the nation's 5,500 hospitals, Sorrell says. The 30% figure mentioned in the survey shows "a trend toward ACO development or laying the groundwork for it," she explained.
As 2013 continues, Sorrell doesn't anticipate a drop off in doctors' interest in obtaining hospital employment. "Physicians are approaching the hospitals asking, 'Do you want to buy the practice? Hospitals are saying, 'Here's a primary care doc or practice looking to sell. Let's take advantage and buy it.'"