Healthcare Insights

Top 20 physician group specialties with the most growth over the last five years

The healthcare industry is rapidly changing, and physician groups are not exempt from these changes.

Consolidation and increased ownership of physician groups by private equity (PE) firms are two trends impacting these practices nationwide. Clinicians may sell their practices due to the competitive landscape, the need for capital, financial uncertainty, high purchase prices, or all of the above. Due to these changing market dynamics, it’s more important than ever for healthcare organizations to stay on top of practice delivery shifts impacting physicians.

Organizations are also keeping their fingers on the pulse of patient care trends within specific specialties. Understanding these market dynamics and care patterns is critical when determining where to invest, forming organizational partnerships, and building relationships with healthcare professionals.

The Definitive Healthcare PhysicianGroupView product tracks more than 122,000 groups of physicians and other healthcare professionals. Using our Atlas All-Payor Claims  and PhysicianGroupView data product, we compiled a list of physician group primary specialties with the most claims growth in the last five full-calendar years. We included specialties with more than 1,000 claims in this analysis.

Primary specialties with the greatest growth in claims from 2018-2022

Medical group primary specialty Percent increase in claims (2018-2022) Explore dataset
Hospice and Palliative Care 786% Explore
Rheumatology - Pediatric 544% Explore
Preventive Medicine 125% Explore
Radiology - Interventional Radiology 83% Explore
Dietitian/Nutrition Professional 64% Explore
Geriatric Medicine 57% Explore
Therapy - Massage Therapist 56% Explore
Radiology - Nuclear Medicine 55% Explore
Adult Medicine 45% Explore
10 Surgery - Pediatric Surgery 44% Explore
11 Otolaryngology - Pediatric 39% Explore
12 Psychiatry - Neuropsychiatry 35% Explore
13 Surgery - Surgical Oncology 33% Explore
14 Social Worker - Licensed Clinical Social Worker 29% Explore
15 Cardiology - Pediatric Cardiologist 23% Explore
16 Oncology - Hematology/Oncology 21% Explore
17 Oncology - Medical Oncology 20% Explore
18 Cardiology - Cardiac Electrophysiology 17% Explore
19 Psychiatry - Geriatric Psychiatry 16% Explore
20 Therapy - Occupational Therapist 11% Explore

Fig. 1 - Data is from the Definitive Healthcare Atlas All-Payor Claims for PhysicianGroupView for calendar years 2018-2022. Claims data is sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses, revenue cycle management firms, and practice management software platforms in in the United States and is updated monthly. Data accessed May 2023.

Which specialties had the most growth in the last five years?

In first place was hospice and palliative care with a 786% growth in claims. According to an article published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, one factor  likely contributing to this growth is the increasing aging population, in particular with baby boomers ranging in ages between 57-75 years old. Additionally, hospice and palliative medicine is a relatively new physician specialty, so its growth is anticipated as the supply of clinicians in this emerging specialty increases over time.

In second place is rheumatology- pediatric. The growth in this specialty points to a supply-and-demand challenge. In 2020, the American College of Rheumatology published a workforce study and demand projections for the pediatric rheumatology workforce from 2015-2030. The study projected that by 2030, the demand for pediatric rheumatologists will be twice the supply.

Finally, in third place is preventive medicine (125%). This specialty grew steadily year-over-year since 2018, even during COVID-19 when many patients avoided going to the doctor’s office. Factors contributing to this growth may be related to the increased focus on value-based care and preventive medicine. Additionally, the increase of health maintenance organization (HMO) insurance plans offered by employers may be contributing to this growth as HMOs require the patient to establish care with a primary care provider before obtaining a specialist referral.

What’s a physician group?

A physician group refers to one or more healthcare professionals operating as an organization to provide patient care. These organizations can be single or multi-specialty.

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Healthcare Insights are developed with data from the Definitive Healthcare platform. Want even more insights? Start a free trial now and get access to the highest quality healthcare commercial intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers.