Study: Three in four doctors hired in 2014 will work for hospitals

Annual Merritt Hawkins report says solo practices are disappearing

Topics: Employment, Physician Issues, Hospitalists, Hospital-Physician Alignment

July 10, 2012

Hospitals will account for more than 75% of new physician hires within two years, according to Merritt Hawkins' 19th annual Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives report.

The recruiting firm analyzed more than 2,700 physician recruiting assignments conducted between April 2011 and March 2012. About 63% of the agency's search assignments were for hospitals, up from 56% the previous year and 11% eight years ago. Merritt Hawkins researchers deduced that number will continue to rise at a similar pace to reach at least 75% of hospital-bound physicians in the next two years.

The findings reflect a growing trend that the medical profession is moving away from private practices according to the report, and that hospitals' need to align with physicians in preparing for the implementation of the federal health reform law.

"The recruitment of physicians into solo practice settings has almost entirely abated," the report says. Solo physicians accounted for 1% of the searches, down from 22% in 2004.

The report found that primary care physicians are the most in-demand doctors, followed by a tie between family physicians and general internists. The demand can be lucrative for physicians in these fields; the base salary for family physicians is now $189,000, up by $11,000 over the previous year.

Anesthesiology fell off the list of 20 most-requested specialties entirely for the first time since Merritt Hawkins began compiling data. According to Phillip Miller, the firm's VP of communications, the drop is linked with more states allowing RNs to take the place of anesthesiologists.

Radiology, which was Merritt Hawkins' most requested area of expertise in 2003, ranked 18th in this year's report.

"As people put things off, there's less utilization," Miller says, "And compensation for radiologists has been cut by Medicare," contributing to a changing outlook for radiologists (Crane, Medscape Medical News, 7/6).

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