Private equity-backed physician practices jump 600%

From 2012 to 2021, the number of physician practices owned by private equity groups jumped by more than 600%, according to a March report from Health Affairs

The analysis found that private equity-acquired practices increased from 816 practice sites across 119 metropolitan statistical areas in 2012 to 5,779 sites across 307 metropolitan statistical areas in 2021.

The analysis linked PE acquisition data with full-time-equivalent physicians data to estimate the local market share of each PE firm within 10 physician specialties — primary care, dermatology, OB-GYN, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, oncology, urology, radiology, orthopedics and cardiology. 

Here are four more statistics to know:

1. Single private equity firms hold significant market share — more than 30% in 108 metropolitan specialty markets and more than 50% in 50 of those markets.

2. The number of private equity physician practices increased from 2012 to 2018, hitting 175 in 2018, before plateauing in 2019 because of a decline of dermatology acquisitions. 2020 saw an acquisition decline due to COVID-19 before buying skyrocketed in 2021— there were 317 acquisitions in 2021, an 84.3% jump from 2020.  

3. Of the 1,094 acquisitions during the study period, dermatology made up 34% of acquisitions, ophthalmology made up 25% and gastroenterology made up 11%.  

4. The highest concentrations of private equity market share were in the South and Northeast.

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