Cardiology slips as acquisition target

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Hospital executives appear to be on the hunt for physician practices to acquire in 2013, according to a survey by the staffing service Jackson Healthcare, but cardiology is not the prize catch.

Jackson Healthcare conducted an online and telephone survey in late 2012 of 118 hospital executives to measure physician acquisitions in 2012 and trends for 2013. They asked respondents about acquisition efforts, including what specialties they acquired or planned to acquire and reasons for the acquisition.

Hospitals showed a voracious appetite for acquisitions, with 56 percent reporting deals in 2012 and 52 percent planning acquisitions in 2013. Cardiology ranked among the middle top for specialties in 2012, with 18 percent adding cardiology practices to their fold. But family practices garnered the most interest, at 54 percent.

Ten percent of respondents expected to acquire a cardiology practice in 2013. Family practices again proved the most coveted, at 31 percent, followed by internal medicine (22 percent), general medicine (22 percent) and primary care (13 percent). Three percent said they planned to acquire a cardiothoracic surgery practice within the year.

Based on the survey, physicians often make the first move in the acquisition process. Seventy percent reported that physicians approached the hospital or wanted to sell their practices. More than half of the hospitals used acquisitions to give them a competitive advantage or as a recruitment strategy. Another third responded that acquisitions were part of efforts to form accountable care organizations.

Alpharetta, Ga.-based Jackson Healthcare released the survey results in March.