13% of practice-owning cardiologists courting buyers

Thirteen percent of cardiologists in a private practice reported in a survey that they actively were seeking to sell, largely due to reimbursement cuts and the cost of maintaining their practices.

Staffing firm Jackson Healthcare polled 536 physicians for its “Trend Watch: Physician Practice Acquisition” report, which is part of an ongoing survey that tracks physicians’ attitudes and practice decisions. The survey found physicians increasingly influenced by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“There’s been a steady increase in practice acquisitions by hospitals since the ACA passed in 2010,” according to the report. “For the first time, we see many of these purchases are being initiated by the physicians.”

About two-thirds of respondents currently owned or had an ownership stake in a practice. Of those, 15 percent reported actively seeking a buyer. More than half of respondents were actively looking for a buyer, passively willing to sell, planning to retire or quit the field.

Internal medicine specialists, which included cardiologists, led the list by physician type for actively seeking a buyer. This group identified reimbursement reductions and the cost of maintaining their businesses as the top reasons for selling. The complexities of healthcare reform weighed heavily on more than half as well.

Primary care physicians and generalists reported that wanting a more balanced work-private life compelled them to seek a buyer.

More than half of those in the process of selling or actively in search of a buyer considered a hospital or a healthcare system as a good choice. Hospitals may be receptive, according to the report. Twenty percent of respondents who sold a practice in the past three years had been approached by a hospital, up from 15 percent who sold three or more years ago.

Resource constraints also factor into decisions to sell. Twenty-four percent of physicians thinking of selling said they lacked the resources to comply with the ACA. Thirty percent who sold within the past three years ago cited insufficient resources as their motivation, up from 12 percent for three or more years ago.

On the bright side, many who sold their ownership reported satisfaction with the move. Sixty percent were satisfied or very satisfied with their situation, 55 percent didn’t miss ownership and 76 percent would make the same decision.