More and more physicians are trading the autonomy of private practice for the security of working in hospital-employed medical groups. However, physician employment is one more challenge for hospitals, according to an article by Navigant Healthcare's Paul Keckley, Ph.D, managing director in the company's healthcare practice.
More than 200,000 physicians in the U.S. are now employees, and 3 in 4 medical residents will start their career as employees of a medical group, hospital or faculty plan, he notes.
Doctors have numerous reasons for becoming hospital employees. In one recent survey, 37 percent of doctors said they did not want to deal with the administrative hassles of owning a practice and 33 percent said they want to be a doctor--not a business person.
With help from the Healthcare Financial Management Association, Navigant asked administrators of 44 hospital-sponsored group practices what they worry about most. These were their three concerns, which they said hospitals can do a better job managing:
1. Operations. The administrators say they worry about how to operate the group practice efficiently as payments shift from volume to value, margins shrink, and the costs for information technology and labor increase.
2. Compensation. They worry about how to compensate physicians in light of the change from production to performance. Physicians expect to be paid well.
3. Recruitment. They worry about how they will recruit new physicians to join the group and sustain growth.
In light of those concerns, hospital boards and management must take a fresh look at how they can build a physician enterprise, Keckley says. Hospitals must ask questions, such as why a physician would want to work for the organization.
They must also assess whether they have the technology and tools in place that physicians need--and expect--to do their jobs. They must determine how physicians will be compensated as key employees of the enterprise team. And they should expect that physicians will want to be heard on matters of consequence to the entire organization, not just clinical issues, says Keckley.
"Employing physicians is not an end in itself. It's a mean toward building a physician enterprise that's scalable, impactful and the centerpiece of a hospital's transformation," Keckley said.
To learn more:
- read the article