Buying practices a thing of past. Hospitals have all but given up on purchasing physician practices, a clear reversal of the trend just a few years ago, according to a survey released earlier this month by the Health Care Group, Philadelphia. Last year, only 3% of medical practices sold were purchased by hospitals-a stunning reduction from three years ago when hospitals bought 46% of all the practices sold, the consulting firm said. Instead, solo physicians purchased a record 74% of practices sold in 2000, up from 36% in 1997.
Ratings for PhyCor take fall. Standard and Poor's, New York, lowered all of its ratings for financially strapped PhyCor, Nashville, to D from CCC, the credit-rating agency said early this month. The agency said the physician practice management company's strategy of selling units to pay down bank debt is shrinking its revenue base, so much so that PhyCor's ability to pay off its convertible subordinated notes is thrown into question. PhyCor, which lost $575 million in 2000, missed a Feb. 15 interest payment on the notes and is avoiding default on its bank debt only at the discretion of the lenders.
Orthopods are doing well. Orthopedic surgeons, with an average salary of $350,000, were the highest-paid specialty in 2000, according to a physician compensation survey released earlier this month by consulting and staffing firm Martin, Fletcher & Associates of Irving, Texas. The survey, which included compensation data for 17 specialties, was the first conducted by Martin, Fletcher.