REPORT: Over 90% of New Physician Jobs Feature Employment by Hospitals or Other Facilities Less Than 10% Feature Private Practice Settings


IRVING, TX – Over 90% of new physician job openings feature employment by hospitals, medical groups, community health centers, or other healthcare facilities, according to a new report, signaling the continued decline of physician private practice.  

        Prepared by Merritt Hawkins, the nation’s leading physician search firm and a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AHS), the report tracks the 3,158 physician and advanced practitioner recruiting assignments the firm conducted from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.  Of these assignments, the great majority (over 90%) featured practices in which newly recruited physicians will be employed either by hospitals, medical groups, community health centers, academic medical centers, or other facilities. Less than 10% of the recruiting assignments featured independent practice settings, such as partnerships, concierge practices, or solo practice settings, down from over 45% in 2004. 

        “The employed model is almost the only choice for physicians seeking practice opportunities today,” said Kurt Mosley, Vice President of Strategic Alliances at Merritt Hawkins.  “However, it also is the first choice for most physicians.  Very few are seeking small, independent practices.” 

        Both the Accountable Care Act (ACA) and market forces are driving the trend toward larger entities, such as integrated hospital systems and consolidated medical groups, which typically employ physicians, Mosley said. Other proliferating sites of service, such as urgent care centers, retail clinics, and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) also typically employ doctors. 

        Physicians themselves are seeking employed settings to mitigate financial risks and to avoid the increasingly complex and regulated environment typical of private practice, according to Mosley.  One exception is concierge practice, a private practice option which appears to be growing in popularity.  Merritt Hawkins conducted 32 searches for concierge settings last year, up from only ten such searches two years ago. 

         The report further indicates that for the eighth year in a row Merritt Hawkins conducted more search assignments for family physicians than for any other type of doctor.  Physicians specializing in general internal medicine were second on the list, also for the eighth consecutive year. Family physicians and other primary care doctors are in increased demand due in part to their expanded role as care coordinators in team-based delivery models such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and medical homes, according to Mosley.   

        Advanced practitioners such as physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) also are in growing demand, the report indicates.  The number of search assignments Merritt Hawkins conducted for PAs and NPs increased by 320% over the last two years, according to the report.      

 Value-Based Incentives

       The new report suggests that the use of value-based physician incentives stalled in the last year.  In 2013, 39% of Merritt Hawkins’ search assignments offering a production bonus featured at least one value-based metric such as high patient satisfaction scores or low hospital readmission rates.  In 2014, that number dropped to 24%, indicating that employers are still struggling to create physician compensation formulas that incorporate both volume and value based metrics, or are hesitating to do so until the terms of such formulas become clearer.

 An infographic previewing results of Merritt Hawkins’ 2014 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives can be accessed at http://bit.ly/physicianrecruitingreview and a complete report can obtained by calling Kurt Mosley at 469-524-1446.

 About Merritt Hawkins and AMN Healthcare 

        Merritt Hawkins is the largest physician search and consulting firm in the United States and is a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AHS), the nation’s innovator of healthcare workforce solutions.   More information about Merritt Hawkins can be accessed at www.merritthawkins.com.