Hospitals' physician compensation might not be sustainable, says ASC CEO

When hiring physicians, ASCs have some advantages over hospitals, though hospitals tend to pay better. But Mark Schwartz, CEO of Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center in Warrenton, Va., told "Becker's ASC Review Podcast" that he thinks unless things change, the pay disparity could be on the verge of shrinking.

Note: This is an edited excerpt. Listen to the full podcast episode here.

Question: What trends are you following today? 

Mark Schwartz: I'm looking on the national level at the impact of changes in healthcare, the increasing cost of medical education and COVID as a catalyst for provider retirement and then thinking about what that looks like for the provider shortages and the delivery of healthcare. That's something we saw prior to COVID: the forecast for shortages of physicians. I think that has only increased or accelerated with COVID. 

I'm seeing that in Virginia, but I think it's the whole delivery system [nationwide], if you don't have the primary cares and the urgent cares and have enough staffing in those areas. And then obviously, we're seeing shortages in critical areas on a national level, whether it's anesthesia or other providers that affect the ability to deliver care.

Those are the things I'm concerned about. And then, what does it look like for people coming into healthcare as providers? I think right now the costs are only increasing for people going into medical school.

And [with] hospitals and independence in terms of physicians, I think the hospitals have been able to have a [good] margin, and as hospital margins get challenging, they're typically taking a loss on the physician side. So I'm not sure that is a sustainable model going forward, unless there's other changes within the pipeline in terms of physicians coming into the field or reimbursements.

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