The List: Summit Medical Ranked Second Largest Physician Group in Region


It's no surprise that the Book of Lists’ ranking of hospitals this year is virtually unchanged from previous years. A three-story, 55,000-square-foot hospital costs more than $17 million to build on average, according to Reed Construction Data. That's $255per square foot, although costs tend to be lower in Southern states like Tennessee. Many hospitals are much larger, with a corresponding increase in price.

The University of Tennessee Medical Center remains Knoxville's largest hospital ranked by number of beds. It's also a top 10 employer in the region with nearly 4,000 employees -- more than twice that of the next hospital on our list. UTMC this year was named one of the Best Hospitals in Tennessee by U.S. News & World Report, an honor also shared by the next two contenders. Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center at No. 2 and Parkwest Medical Center at No. 3 are a part of community-owned Covenant Health. Covenant operates seven acute care hospitals in East Tennessee, and employs approximately 10,000. In 2012 Covenant was named No. 22 among the top 100 integrated health systems nationally by IMS Health, a national healthcare market intelligence company.

The fourth hospital on our list is Physician's Regional Medical Center, still widely recognized by its previous name, St. Mary's. Physicians Regional and three other hospitals on our list are owned by Health Management Associates of Florida, the parent company of East Tennessee's Tennova Healthcare. Tennova is seeking to build a $250 million new hospital on West Knoxville property on Middlebrook Pike that would replace Physicians Regional. The Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission approved Tennova’s rezoning bid in July; City Council is expected to see the zoning request Sept. 17. Some physician groups have already moved their practices nearer the proposed site in anticipation of Tennova getting approval.

As more physicians choose to be employed by hospitals or form larger group practices rather than independently, this trend could continue. A 2012 survey by national physician search and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins showed that 63 percent of search assignments featured physician hospital employment, up from 56 percent in 2011. Merritt projects more than 75 percent of newly hired physicians will be hospital employees within two years. Knoxville's largest physician group, according to number of physicians, is University Physicians Association, which works closely with the University of Tennessee Medical Center and the university's Graduate School of Medicine. However, it also has affiliations with all Covenant facilities, Blount Memorial Hospital and East Tennessee Children's Hospital. The group has 147 local offices.

No. 2 group Summit Medical has 50 locations in 11 counties throughout East Tennessee, including at Covenant's Parkwest and Fort Sanders hospitals. Summit sees an average of 81,000 patients per month. New to the list this year is No. 3 Covenant Medical Management, a physician practice management company that is wholly-owned by Covenant Health. Blount Memorial Physicians Group, the fourth largest group, was created last year when East Tennessee Medical Group, a large multispecialty group in Alcoa, joined Blount Memorial Hospital. It was number 16 on our list previously, but has grown to 54 physicians and a staff of 250. For a full list of Knoxville area hospitals ranked by licensed beds and Knoxville area physician groups ranked by staff physicians, visit

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