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10 key shifts in physician practice arrangements

A decade in review (AMA benchmark survey findings)

In our fast-paced world, it's easy to overlook the transformational shifts happening around us every day. This feeling is especially true in the medical field, where the traditional model of solo practitioners and small group practices are evolving in response to the pressures and opportunities of our current age. 

The AMA’s 2022 Physician Practice Benchmark Survey* illustrates some of these pivotal shifts and offers insight into the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape. 

The AMA’s 2022 Physician Practice Benchmark Survey key findings

1. Reduction in physician ownership:

The past decade witnessed a significant decrease in physician-owned practices. In 2012, 60.1% of practices were wholly owned by physicians. This figure dropped to 46.7% by 2022.

2. Increase in larger practices:

The practice size has changed notably with a move away from smaller practices towards larger ones. The percentage of physicians in practices with 10 or fewer physicians fell from 61.4% in 2012 to 51.8% in 2022, while those in practices with 50 or more physicians grew from 12.2% to 18.3%.

3. Shift from single to multi-specialty practices:

More physicians now work in multi-specialty practices than before. There's been about a 4-percentage point shift since 2012 from single specialty practices to multi-specialty ones, with 42% of physicians in single specialty and 26.7% in multi-specialty practices in 2022.

4. A decrease in practice ownership:

There's been a significant change in physicians' employment status. In 2022, 44.0% of physicians were owners, down from 53.2% in 2012. This contrasts greatly with the early 2000s and 1980s, when about 61% and 76% of physicians respectively were owners.

5. Increase in direct hospital employment:

Between 2012 and 2022, there was a rise in physicians who were directly employed by or contracted with a hospital - from 5.6% to 9.6%. Those in a hospital-owned practice also increased from 23.4% to 31.3%.

6. The rise of private equity:

In 2022, 4.5% of physicians belonged to a practice owned by a private equity group, which was similar to the percentage in 2020, indicating a new trend in the healthcare industry.

7. Top reason for hospital acquisition:

The most common reason for a practice's sale or acquisition by a hospital or health system was the need to negotiate better payment rates. 80% of physicians cited this as a very important or important reason.

8. Shift from small to large practices:

There has been a significant redistribution of physicians from small to large practices over the past decade. The share of physicians in practices with 10 or fewer physicians fell from 61.4% in 2012 to 51.8% in 2022. Meanwhile, those in practices with at least 50 physicians grew from 12.2% to 18.3%.

9. Solo practices declining:

Solo practices and single-specialty group practices saw a decrease of around 4 percentage points each over the last 10 years. Meanwhile, multi-specialty practices and direct hospital employment each grew by about 4 percentage points.

10. Differences between private and hospital-owned practices:

There are remarkable differences between private and hospital-owned practices in terms of size, organization, and inclusion of primary care. For instance, 52% of physicians in private practices are in those with fewer than five physicians, compared to 17.4% of physicians in hospital-owned practices.

What's next?

In the face of such rapid change and complexity, the role of support infrastructures like Medallion becomes even more crucial. At Medallion, we are committed to empowering physician groups to thrive in this evolving landscape by providing the resources, tools and collaborative platform needed to navigate these changes. We help ease the administrative burden, allowing physicians to focus on what matters most – patient care.

The changes in the healthcare landscape present both challenges and opportunities, and through collaboration and a shared vision, we can work toward improving not only the healthcare system but also patient outcomes. For more information about Medallion’s solutions drop us a line here.

*Survey note: The Physician Practice Benchmark Survey, conducted annually by the American Medical Association (AMA), provides an insightful look into the evolution of physician practice arrangements in the United States. Now in its 10th year, the survey tracks key trends in practice characteristics, ownership structures, and employment status, offering valuable data and perspective on how the landscape of healthcare is changing. By shedding light on these trends, the survey helps healthcare professionals and policymakers alike understand the dynamics of the medical profession, and informs strategic decisions for the future of healthcare.