Building a lasting healthcare practice requires a number of important parts. One of the key ingredients is a team of physicians who will provide outstanding medical care and build a roster of loyal patients. When healthcare providers are hiring these doctors, they often rely on non-compete agreements to protect themselves against a physician suddenly departing and taking with them their portion of the practice.
Non-compete agreements are legal in Florida as long as they are not overly restrictive in time or geography and they are necessary to protect a legitimate business interest. However, as more physicians are seeking new employment, including hospital work, the trends for non-compete agreements are changing.
One way that the use of non-competes is changing is that hiring hospitals require far less restrictive covenants. These agreements now are for more narrow geographic areas and for shorter periods of time. This allows hospitals to recruit an excellent team of doctors who feel comfortable knowing they have an exit strategy in the event that the job does not work out.
Additionally, more hospitals are finding themselves on the receiving end of tortious interference claims. Doctors who are restricted by non-competes will often counter-sue, asserting tortious interference because they are not able to practice medicine in their chosen area. This is because the medical field is growing and more doctors are facing competition among their peers.
While hospitals are becoming less restrictive with their non-competes, physician practices are using them more. There has been a reduced demand for physician buy-in and buy-outs and therefore there are fewer barriers for a physician to leave a practice and go work at a hospital. Consequently, these private practices must try to recruit junior talent and find ways to ensure their continued loyalty.
Although non-competes are still a popular tool for healthcare providers, many employers are recognizing the need for competition and mobility and are changing the way they approach these employment contracts. To learn more about using a non-compete clause for your medical practice, meet with an experienced Florida health care law attorney.
Health care law attorney Andrea Jevic also contributed to this blog post.