3 steps to hospital-physician alignment success

Hospitals and health systems need an effective long-term plan in place for physician alignment.

Many health systems employ several physician alignment strategies at once, each with pros and cons, but those looking to improve their physician staffing plans should consider several key points, according to one expert.

Healthcare consultant Todd J. Kislak wrote in a column for Hospitals & Health Networks that a long-term strategic plan for physician staffing must include three important points:

  • The plan must create a “meaningful alignment” between hospitals and doctors.
  • Care must be integrated between the system or hospital and the physician practices, and that should extend to all parts of the system.
  • Providers must reach out to other community stakeholders to coordinate care.

Kislak also offered the pros and cons of the most common ways for physicians and hospitals to align. For instance, when physicians are employed by hospitals, the alignment between the two is clear and and administrative costs go down for the doctors. But physician morale may suffer in a “corporate culture,” he wrote.

RELATED: A first-hand account of the pros and cons of hospital employment

Hospital-employed physicians are becoming increasingly common, and recent estimates suggest that nearly 40% of doctors are employed by hospitals. However, this has not necessarily led to improved care for patients, research suggests.

Local practice groups are also being absorbed by hospitals at a fairly rapid clip, and now a quarter of practices are owned by hospitals. Kislak wrote that these smaller practices have strong community ties and patient loyalties that can be a boon, and doctors love the sense of autonomy, but they are far from cost effective and are falling out of favor.