Rural practices snapped up by hospitals at dramatic rate

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Physician practices in rural areas of the country are being acquired by hospitals and healthcare systems at a dramatic rate.

Between July 2012 and July 2015, hospital employment of physicians and hospital ownership of physician practices increased in both urban and rural areas, according to a report from the Physicians Advocacy Institute and Avalere Health.

However, the number of rural practices acquired by outstripped those purchased in urban areas, according to AJMC.com. The report found a 102.6 percent growth among acquisitions of rural practices compared to 77.8 percent growth in urban areas.

Acquisitions, which are occurring in all areas of the country, typically involve multiple physicians and often include the practice’s physician building and equipment, the report said.

Hospital or health system ownership of physician practices grew by 89 percent from 2012 to 2015, according AJMC.com. In one six month period alone, 13,000 physician practices were bought up by hospitals or health systems. The report also noted the trend of fewer independent physicians and found 38 percent of U.S. physicians now employed by hospitals and health systems, as FiercePracticeManagement previously reported.