MGMA: 65 percent of established doctors are in hospital-owned practices

Hospital-owned practices were the most successful in attracting physicians in 2009, according to the Medical Group Management Association.

Sixty-five percent of established physicians were placed in hospital-owned practices, according to the MGMA’s "Physician Placement Starting Salary Survey: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data," while 49 percent of physicians hired out of residency or fellowship were placed in hospital-owned practices.

The study suggests that higher starting compensation could be one of the drivers for this trend, as primary care and specialty care physicians in hospital-owned practices were offered more in first-year guaranteed compensation than those in practices not owned by hospitals.

“Physicians are moving to hospital-owned practices for a number of reasons,” said Brenda Lewis, president of B.E.L. & Associates, Inc., and an MGMA survey advisory committee member. “There is uncertainty of reimbursement for the future. Physicians are looking to sustain income to pay office overhead and have a paycheck to take home, and those with large Medicare populations are more likely to want to move to hospital-employed positions.”

Historically, practices that aren't owned by hospitals have offered higher first-year guaranteed compensation to specialty physicians. The gap between first-year guaranteed compensation offered for specialty care physicians had been shrinking since 2007, say officials. Primary care physicians reported median first-year guaranteed compensation of $160,000 in 2009, while specialists reported $230,000.

The survey also shows that first-year guaranteed compensation has decreased by 2.1 percent since 2006 for specialists in single specialty practices, whereas primary care first-year guaranteed compensation has increased by 17.4 percent.

First-year guaranteed compensation for specialty care physicians in multi-specialty practices has increased 3.2 percent since 2006. During this same period, first-year guaranteed compensation for primary care physicians in multi-specialty practices has increased 14.3 percent.

The survey, produced in conjunction with the National Association of Physician Recruiters, includes complete data on more than 4,100 providers categorized by specialty and starting salary for more than 1,500 physicians directly out of residency.