Most Baby Boomers in the United States came of age in an era of healthcare when it was not uncommon for physicians to own their own practices, work long hours and treat their patients—often singlehandedly—from birth into adulthood. That time has passed. A number of factors, including healthcare reform and work-life balance issues, are causing an increasing number of physicians with private groups to sell their practices or seek employment directly with hospitals. For their part, hospitals are aggressively acquiring physicians in order to remain competitive.
The implications of this trend go well beyond the physicians and hospitals—and patients—themselves. Over the coming years, medical device firms, healthcare IT enterprises and pharmaceutical companies will see their target customers shift away from individual, self-employed physicians or physician-owned practices toward hospitals and health systems. This shift will require new ways of segmenting customers as well as fresh strategies for marketing and distributing products and services toward larger corporate purchasers.