Private Practice Dropped to Less Than 50 Percent of Physicians in 2020

A 2021 study by the American Medical Association found a significant reduction in the number of physicians in private practice and a concurrent increase in the number of physicians working for a hospital. 

Distribution of physicians by practice ownership structure

As the number of physicians in private practice has fallen, the share of physicians who work directly for a hospital or for a practice at least partially owned by a hospital or health system has increased. Nine percent of physicians worked directly for a hospital (as either an employee or a contractor) in 2020 compared to 5.6 percent in 2012. Twenty percent of physicians worked in practices wholly owned by a hospital in 2020 compared to 14.7 percent in 2012. Including physicians who worked in practices that had joint ownership by physicians and a hospital system—whose numbers remained steady at around 6 to 7 percent—as well as physicians who were unsure of whether their practice was wholly or jointly owned, the share of physicians working directly for a hospital or for a practice at least partially owned by a hospital or health system increased from 29.0 percent in 2012 to 39.8 percent in 2020.