4 Physician Employment Trends for 2014

4 Physician Employment Trends for 2014
Marketing Director

Last year, our Vice President of Compliance discussed the rise of physician employment after attending a session at the 2013 American Health Lawyers Association’s Annual Meeting. For hospitals, adopting a physician employment model can provide certain benefits such as assurance of physician coverage and, given the healthcare industry’s heightened focus on patient satisfaction, this can also provide your organization with greater control over quality of care. The following are a few recent trends and statistics for your consideration.

1. Young Doctors Prefer Hospital Employment Over Private Practice

In a December 2013 article featured in The Kansas City Star, Alan Bavley discusses how a young couple of newly trained physicians chose hospital employment rather than their own independent practice. According to a 2011 survey by physician recruitment firm Merrit Hawkins, hospital employment was the top career choice among medical residents in their final year of training. And with medical school graduates completing training programs with new record levels of student loan debt, it makes sense why young physicians are turning to hospitals and other healthcare organizations for employment rather than taking on more debt by starting a doctor’s office.

2. Hospital Physician Employment Reaches New Heights

In another article for The Kansas City Star published on January 17th, Bavley discusses the ongoing trend of America’s doctors “trading in their autonomy for regular work hours and a hospital paycheck.” According to statistics from the American Hospital Association, the number of doctors on hospital payrolls has risen by one-third since 2000. In the Kansas City area, for example, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City estimates that as many as 55 percent of physicians are now employed by hospitals. Based on these numbers, it looks like physician employment may soon become the norm rather than the exception. A recent survey by Jackson Healthcare, Filling The Void: 2013 Physician Outlook & Practice Trends, however, reports that only 26 percent of physicians are hospital employed, up from 20 percent in 2012. Still, this study confirms the upward trend of hospital physician employment.

3. Hospitals Increase Physician Recruiting Efforts

According to an annual report by Merritt Hawkins, 2013 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives, physician recruiting for hospital employment has become the norm in recent years. 64 percent of Merritt Hawkins’ search assignments in 2012/2013 featured hospital employment of the physician. This number was 56 percent in 2011, and represents a significant increase from 11 percent in 2004. By contrast, Merritt Hawkins’ report shows that the recruitment of physicians into solo practice settings has almost entirely subsided, comprising only 1 percent of the firm’s search assignments in 2011/2012.

4. More Physicians Are Participating in Accountable Care Organizations

Another finding from Jackson Healthcare report is the upward trend of physician participation in accountable care organizations (ACOs). In 2013, 1 in 4 physicians (25 percent) reported to participate in ACOs while an additional 14 percent are planning on participating. While ACO participation does not represent the norm for doctors, this study indicates it is also experiencing an upward trend.

Do any of these trends resonate with what you see at your facility? Let us know with a comment below.

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