Blog | Tuesday, July 3, 2012

QD: News Every Day--Hospitals have given up on recruiting solo practitioners

Hospitals have nearly given up the search for solo physicians, one recruiter declared, based on the fact that only 1% of physician recruiting assignments sought this type of practitioner last year.

Merritt Hawkins tracked 2,710 physician recruiting assignments April 1, 2011 to March 23 of this year, of which 28 were for solo physicians. In 2004, 22% of the firm’s recruiting assignments were for solo practitioners.

Meanwhile, 63% of the firm's search assignments were for hospital employment, up from 56% last year and 11% in 2004. The firm projected that more than 75% of new hires will be hospital employees within two years.

Primary care physicians, including general internists, remain in the highest demand. Family physicians were the most requested type, followed by internists, hospitalists, psychiatrists and orthopedic surgeons.

ACP's own membership data shows that 56% of survey respondents describe their position as "employee" compared with 15% who reported being a "sole owner." ACP members under 40 are significantly more likely to be employees (81% of those under 40 years old, versus 51% of those 40 to 55 years old and 48% of those 56 to 65 years old).

ACP Members, Fellows and Masters who are in solo practices have declined slightly in the past five years, from 19% in 2008 to 17% in 2012. But physicians who have been out of medical school 16 years or fewer were in solo practice far less often than all ACP members overall, with rates of 9% in 2008 falling to 6% in 2011.

Also, the Merritt Hawkins survey noted that physicians are being compensated differently. Bonuses based on quality of care rose to 35%, compared to just 7% the year before. But quality measures generally amounted to less than 10% of a physician’s potential bonus and that volume "remains the most practical way for physicians to increase their incomes."