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Physicians-for-Hire Must Tread Carefully

HealthLeaders Media Staff, for HealthLeaders Media, November 12, 2013

"To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the death of private practice medicine have been greatly exaggerated," Hoven says. "This new data shows that while there has been an increase in hospital employment, more than half of physicians-53.2%-were self-employed in 2012, and 60% worked in practices wholly owned by physicians. Needed innovation in payment and delivery reform must recognize the wide range of practice types and sizes that exist today so all physicians can participate in the move to a more patient-centered system that rewards high-quality care and reduces costs."

While this new study shows 60% of physicians in ­physician-owned practices, there has been a trend toward more hospital employment during the last five years. In 2012, 29% of physicians worked either directly for a hospital (5.6%) or for a practice that was at least partially owned by a hospital (23.4%). A 2007/2008 AMA survey did not distinguish between direct hospital employment and employment in a hospital-owned practice, but found that 16.3% of physicians worked in one of the two settings.

The AMA study also found that the percentage of physicians who were practice owners in 2012 decreased eight percentage points from 2007/2008. Eighteen percent of physicians were in solo practice, down six percentage points over five years. Single-specialty practice was the most common practice type in 2012, accounting for 45.5% of physicians.

The full study report is available online at http://tinyurl.com/lflpwbr.

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