September 11, 2012 09:20 ET

Medical Staff Model of Independent Physicians to Continue Decline, According to New HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report

Exclusive Research From HealthLeaders Media Finds That Hospitals and Health Systems Are Moving Away From Working With Independent Physicians in Favor of Direct Employment

DANVERS, MA--(Marketwire - Sep 11, 2012) - Over the course of the next three years, hospitals and health systems are expected to accelerate the shift from working with a medical staff of independent physicians to physicians fully employed by the hospital, according to new research from HealthLeaders Media.

The 2012 HealthLeaders Media Physician Alignment Survey, which surveyed more than 5,000 healthcare leaders nationwide, found that while the independent physician model is still used by 67 percent of organizations today, only 50 percent of respondents expect to retain it as one of their primary medical staffing models by 2015. Indeed, nearly 7 in 10 healthcare leaders anticipate their number of employed physicians to grow by more than 5 percent over the next three years.

"You are starting to see the end of the independent physician," said Lloyd K. Ford, Ph.D., FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden, Ala. Dr. Ford served as lead advisor for the HealthLeaders Media report.

The comprehensive industry intelligence report, produced in cooperation with MedSynergies, is available for free download:

There are also two premium versions of the report available for purchase, which contain in-depth analysis and additional features. For more information about the "premium" version, please go to and for information about the special "buying power" version, please go to

The survey set out to better understand the future of physician alignment in light of the shift from independent to employed physicians at hospitals and health systems. Respondents were asked about which medical staff model they were most likely to favor in the coming years, the most effective strategies for motivating employed physicians, how changes in reimbursement are impacting their physician alignment strategies and the biggest threats to their medical staffing strategies.

"The changing revenue picture is causing both physicians and hospitals to do some financial soul-searching," said Michael Zeis, research analyst for HealthLeaders Media. "Independent physicians who have been in practice for some time worry about declining reimbursements, just as hospitals do, and seek employment in order to stabilize their income. Meanwhile, hospitals are interested in understanding and controlling cost, and performing in a way that maximizes reimbursement rates."

Other key findings in the report include the following:

  • Leaders anticipate "clinical integration" (currently used by 20 percent) and "co-management" (currently used by 10 percent) models to more than double in usage over the next three years;
  • Physician "buy-in" to quality and safety initiatives is the top objective for physician alignment (64 percent);
  • Shortage of physicians in key specialties (61 percent) and declining reimbursements (53 percent) are the top two perceived threats to physician alignment; and
  • Primary care physicians are the top recruiting targets at hospitals and health systems (69 percent).

In addition to the latest findings on physician alignment and expert analysis from top healthcare leaders, the survey report -- "Physician Alignment: Integration Over Independence" -- includes case studies from three renowned health organizations: Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital; Gadsden Riverview Regional Medical Center; and Vanguard Health Chicago.

HealthLeaders Media
HealthLeaders Media, a division of HCPro, Inc., is a leading multi-platform media company dedicated to meeting the business information needs of healthcare executives and professionals. As an integrated media company, HealthLeaders Media includes HealthLeaders magazine,, the HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Unit, HealthLeaders Media Rounds events, HealthLeaders Media Breakthroughs reports, and California HealthFax. All these platforms may be found online at

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