I bet there are some positive outcomes with the hospital-buying-out-medical-practices phenomenon and I’m happy to publish related stories. (firstname.lastname@example.org) But, I just listened to a compelling webinar/podcast at the National Association of Independent Medical Practices (NAIMP.org) by Marni Jameson called: Independent or Employed: Why Fight for Freedom that suggests otherwise.
It seems that this trend for consolidating healthcare is driving up costs and lowering quality of care and access. Here are some of her talking points:
- Percent of doctors working as independents dropped from 57 % in 2000 to 36% in 2013.
- Incentives for doctors to join hospitals includes: more money, referrals, and perceived security and less marketing, overhead, and need to invest in EMR.
- Some are calling it the “Golden Handcuff” for physicians.
- Incentives for hospitals include: capturing market share, control over referrals, boost orders for diagnostic tests, receive more money for same procedures.
In addition to explaining these complex issues in detail, Jameson discusses these 7 consequences of hospital-employed physicians that affect care delivery and therefore should be of significance to consumers, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers.7 consequences of hospital-employed physicians that affect care delivery! Click To Tweet
- Less competition
- Lower quality (this discussion alone is worth listening to and I think that the shift in bias is palpable)
- Less choice
- Higher costs
- Fewer jobs (including loss of emphasis on patient advocacy)
- Higher taxes
- Less job satisfaction (like we need that!)
Overall this trend seems bad for doctors, bad for consumers, bad for allied healthcare workers, and bad for communities. Yet, I also wonder if rather than preserving old paradigms of independent medical practices, we might work towards independent physician practices that are more collaborative in nature i.e. with nurse practitioners, psychologists, nurses, alternative health professionals, patient advocates, and maybe even hospitals. Hmmmmmmm.
In any case, I highly recommend this talk and trust it will spark some great conversations!