Survey: Hospitals' search for solo physicians coming to an end

July 25, 2012

Hospitals have virtually given up the search for solo physicians, as a symbol of America's tradition of independent medical practice fades from the scene, a new survey indicates.

Hospitals have virtually given up the search for solo physicians, as a symbol of America’s tradition of independent medical practice fades from the scene, a new survey indicates.

The survey, conducted by Merritt Hawkins, tracks the 2,710 physician recruiting assignments Merritt Hawkins conducted nationwide from April 1, 2011 to March 23, 2012. Of these, only 28 (1%) were for solo physicians. In 2004, by contrast, 22% of the firm’s recruiting assignments were for solo practitioners.

“Nobody wants to be Marcus Welby anymore, practicing alone or with a partner, and fewer hospitals are seeking solo doctors for their communities,” said James Merritt, of Merritt Hawkins. “To incorporate required technology, comply with regulations, and participate in new delivery models like Accountable Care Organizations, physicians today almost have to be part of larger practices or be employed by hospitals.”

Indeed, the survey shows that 63% of Merritt Hawkins’ recent search assignments featured hospital employment of the physician, up from 56% last year and 11% in 2004. Should this trend continue, Merritt projects over 75% of newly hired physicians will be hospital employees within 2 years.

The survey also indicates that primary care physicians, including family physicians and general internists, remain the type of physicians in highest demand.

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