July 23, 2021

Physician employment continues to gather pace

The number of independent physician practices continued to decline nationwide as health systems, payers, and investors accelerated their physician acquisition and employment strategies during the pandemic. The graphic below highlights recent analysis from consulting firm Avalere Health and the nonprofit Physicians Advocacy Institute, finding that nearly half of physician practices are now owned by hospital or corporate entities, meaning insurers, disruptors, or other investor-owned companies. This increase has been driven mainly by a surge in the number of corporate-owned practices, which has grown over 50 percent across the last two years. (Researchers said they were unable to accurately break down corporate employers more specifically, and that the study likely undercounts the number of practices owned by private equity firms, given the lack of transparency in that segment.) It’s no surprise that we’re seeing an uptick in physician employment, as about a quarter of physicians surveyed a year ago claimed COVID was making them more likely to sell or partner with other entities, and last year saw independent physicians’ average salary falling below that of hospital-employed physicians. We expect the move away from private practice will continue throughout this year and beyond, as physicians seek financial stability and access to capital for necessary investments to remain competitive.

physician employment trends