The number of publicly announced physician mergers and acquisitions declined in 1998 for the first time since 1994, according to Irving Levin Associates, a New Canaan, Conn.-based firm that tracks healthcare deals.
Announced transactions declined by 16% to 262 in 1998 compared with 310 in 1997. For the same period the number of groups acquired fell by 28% to 369 from 511.
The number of physicians affected by the deals declined by 20%, to 23,889 in 1998, from a record 30,017 in 1997. The decline coincides with a downturn in the physician practice management industry.
But the average number of physicians involved in each deal has increased since 1996, suggesting that buyers are favoring larger groups such as independent practice associations, according to Irving Levin.