Less than half of practicing physicians in the U.S. owned their medical practice in 2016, marking the first time that the majority of physicians are not practice owners, according to a new study.
Only 47.1% of physicians in 2016 had ownership stakes in a medical practice, an American Medical Association study released Wednesday found. That's down from 53.2% in 2012, and research shows that doctors, especially young doctors, have been shifting from owning their own practice to joining larger practices.
Ownership and employment shifts reflect the industry's increasing compliance costs and new payment models, research shows. Maintaining the necessary information technology and quality and safety compliance often require a larger asset base to spread costs. Payment reforms like accountable care organizations value an integrated care model, which is why independent physicians have gave way to larger systems, healthcare experts said.
Health systems have been aggressively acquiring physician practices as they aim to better align physician networks to reduce medical variation, improve outcomes and satisfy payment reforms that require broader populations to remain healthy.