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A new study suggests physician practices acquired by private equity rely more heavily on advanced practice providers like nurse practitioners and physician assistants and experience higher churn compared with their non-private equity owned peers.

The researchers used clinician-level and practice acquisition data to study changes in the makeup of clinician workforces at private equity-acquired versus non-private equity-acquired dermatology, ophthalmology, and gastroenterology practices between 2014 and 2019. Among their findings, published today in Health Affairs: Private equity-owned practices had more advanced practice providers than their non-private equity owned peers from pre- to post-acquisition.


That said, there was no significant difference in total physician counts between the two ownership types. The study stopped short of exploring why that is, but senior author Jane Zhu, an assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, said one theory is that the physicians who stay at private equity-owned practices post acquisition are working at more sites as the new private equity owner expands the company. Private equity also likely makes up for the additional need through hiring more advanced practice providers, she said.

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