Eight Things to Know About Employed Physicians

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post is an excerpt from an article by Robin L. Rose, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, HealthStream, in the current issue of PX Alert, HealthStream's quarterly e-newsletter devoted to the wide range of challenges, situations, and issues that have an impact on the patient experience. 

Conventional wisdom in healthcare tells us that the number of employed physicians is on the rise. We have researched the place of physicians in healthcare; highlights of our findings are below:

Employment of Physicians Is on the Rise

The 30-year exodus of physicians from private practice continues, according to a report released in late 2013 by the American Medical Association (AMA). In 1983, some 75.8% of physicians were in private practice, compared to only 46.8% today.

Employment Status Varies by Specialty

Preference for self-employment varies greatly by medical specialty. A whopping 71.9% of surgical subspecialists are still self-employed, while only 37.3% of pediatricians are calling their own shots.

Employed and Self-Employed Physicians Are Equally Satisfied

Although one might assume that employed physicians are less satisfied than their self-employed colleagues, recent studies indicate that overall job satisfaction levels for both groups are about the same.

Job Autonomy and Decision-Making Power Are Key

On-the-job autonomy and decision-making power have long been identified as key drivers of physician satisfaction, independent of whether the physician is employed or self-employed.

Employed Physicians Are Transitioning from Volume to Value

The next challenge facing employed physicians will be the transitioning of financial rewards from volume-based incentives to incentives that are paid to reflect improved quality of patient care. Employed physicians have traditionally received additional pay based on their ability to increase patient volumes.

Employed Physicians May Not Be Sacrificing Financial Gain

Although it has generally been thought that physicians in private practice make more money than employed physicians, Mercer cautions that this is not always the case. Competition for physicians in key specialties is forcing healthcare organizations to pay, if not top dollar, at least highly competitive rates for these providers.

Employed Physicians Value Attention from Administrators

Employed physicians highly value relationships with the healthcare administrators in their organizations, according to research conducted by HealthStream in early 2014 using its Physicians Insights survey.

Employed Physicians Have the View from the Kitchen

Additional research from HealthStream indicates that employed physicians are slightly more critical of their healthcare organizations than other physicians.