In the last edition of the Weekly Gist, we illustrated how non-hospital physician employment spiked during the pandemic. Diving deeper into the same report from consulting firm Avalere Health and the nonprofit Physicians Advocacy Institute, the graphic above looks at the specialties that currently have the greatest number of physicians employed by hospitals and corporate entities (which include insurers, private equity, and non-provider umbrella organizations), and those that remain the most independent.
To date, there has been little overlap in the fields most heavily targeted for employment by hospitals and corporate entities. Hospitals have largely employed doctors critical for key service lines, like cancer and cardiology, as well as hospitalists and other doctors central to day-to-day hospital operations.
In contrast, corporate entities have made the greatest strides in specialties with lucrative outpatient procedural business, like nephrology (dialysis) and orthopedics (ambulatory surgery), as well as specialties like allergy-immunology, that can bring profitable pharmaceutical revenue.
Meanwhile, only a few specialties remain majority independent. Historically independent fields like psychiatry and oral surgery saw the number of independent practitioners fall over 25 percent during the pandemic.
While hospitals will remain the dominant physician employer in the near term, corporate employment is growing unabated, as payers and investors, unrestrained by fair market value requirements, can offer top dollar prices to practices.