Hospital-cardiologist integration often occurs without a practice acquisition

Health Serv Res. 2022 Apr;57(2):333-339. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.13929.


Objective: To describe how much of the recent increase in hospital-cardiologist integration has come from acquisitions of physician practices compared to individual employment decisions. While the role of physician practice acquisitions has received considerable attention in the news, integration may also be driven by individual physicians accepting employment at hospital-based practices.

Data sources: American Medical Association Physician Masterfile and Medicare data.

Study design: Analysis of changes in hospital-cardiologist integration from 2011 to 2018. We measured increases in integration and changes in the number of independent and hospital-owned practices.

Data collection/extraction methods: Not applicable.

Principal findings: In 2011, 18% of cardiologists were integrated, rising to 25% in 2016. Of this rise, 48% occurred with no acquisitions. Physicians who had completed residencies in the past 5 years (early career physicians) had higher rates of integration that also increased over time: the percentage of early career physicians joining hospital systems rose from 25% to 32%, indicating rapid growth in the number of physicians who began their careers working in hospital-based sites.

Conclusions: A large and growing portion of hospital-cardiologist integration came from hospital employment at the individual physician level. Future policies focused on preserving competition and affordability may benefit from better understanding this form of consolidation.

Keywords: delivery system organization; hospital workforce; hospital-physician integration; outpatient care delivery; physician employment; physician practice organization; vertical integration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiologists*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Medicare
  • Physicians*
  • United States