For a study, researchers sought to determine if variations in Medicare payments and patient volume were correlated with private equity (PE) purchases of urology clinics.

They discovered PE purchases of urology practices by searching Google, financial databases, business news sources, and practice websites. In addition, they performed descriptive statistics and trends analysis on the Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data: Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File (2012-2019) of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service to determine whether PE acquisition was connected to changes in Medicare payments and patient volume in comparison to non-PE affiliated urologists in the same states.

During the investigation period, they discovered PE purchases of 10 independent urology clinics spread across 6 states. Urologists who eventually joined private equity companies earned more mean inflation-adjusted Medicare payments ($246,977 vs. $160,038; P<.001) and saw more patients (839.7 vs. 674.2; P =.001) during the pre-acquisition period than those who did not. Inflation-adjusted Medicare payments for PE associated urologists increased by 11.0% (95% CI: -0.2% to 22.3%) throughout the post-acquisition period (P =.054), and patient volume increased by 12.5% (95% CI: 6.5%-18.6%) (P<.001). Medicare payments for urologists who were not connected with PE fell by 6% (P<.001), while patient volume rose by 2.7% (P <.001).

In contrast to decreases for urologists who were not linked with PE but lived in a comparable area geographically, the Medicare payments for affiliated urologists increased even before the purchase. The findings could shed light on local practice tendencies that might further differ after purchase and traits of practices sought by PE companies.