Doctors Inc.: Medicine Goes Corporate As More Physicians Join Hospital Payrolls

Alan Bavley | The Kansas City Star | January 17, 2014

In unprecedented numbers, America’s doctors — those most entrepreneurial and fiercely independent of professionals — are trading in their autonomy for regular work hours and a hospital paycheck.

Quickly and quietly, hospitals across the country have been buying up hundreds of doctors’ medical practices and hiring thousands of formerly independent physicians.

Since 2000, the number of doctors on hospital payrolls nationwide has risen by one-third, according to the American Hospital Association.

In the Kansas City area, fully 55 percent of physicians are now employed by hospitals, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City estimates. That includes virtually all cardiologists and most cancer specialists.

The future solvency of the nation’s health care system may rest on how doctors adapt to a corporate style of medicine and on whether hospitals put the doctors to work improving patient care or fattening the hospitals’ bottom lines.