Hospital execs seeking cardiology affiliations

With major health systems like Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic launching practice affiliations comes news that 40 percent of hospital administrators had acquired or had considered acquiring a cardiovascular practice in the past two years, according to a survey by the American College of Cardiology (ACC). Twenty percent plan to acquire a cardiovascular practice very soon.

Amid the increased interest in cardiology affiliation, 24 percent of hospital administrators cited the recruitment of cardiologists and other cardiovascular professionals as the biggest challenge, according to responses from 300 hospital executives and cardiovascular professionals from 291 hospitals and medical facilities.

However, shrinking insurance payments and rising costs of running a business may make recruitment easier, as those issues have pushed an increasing number of cardiologists to leave private practice and work at hospitals, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier this year.

Lourdes Health System in New Jersey last year hired 47 cardiologists, while Main Line Health in Pennsylvania employed 28 cardiologists this year, up from six in 2008. Meanwhile, Philadelphia's Temple University Health System plans to hire eight cardiologists from a nearby cardiology group, noted the Inquirer.

In addition to recruitment hurdles, hospital execs need to revamp their retention methods to keep cardiologists at their organizations. For instance, a cardiovascular group is ending its partnership with Morris (Ill.) Hospital, reported the Morris Daily Herald. "There were some financial issues, a lot of clinical problems and management issues," cardiologist George Aziz told the newspaper, but could not discuss further due to a pending lawsuit.

Highlighting one way to keep cardiologists happy (and at the institutions), 79 percent of surveyed hospital execs said their organizations internally provide continuing medical education opportunities for cardiovascular staff, while 36 percent said their hospitals completely finance education support, noted Cardiovascular Business.

To learn more:
- check out the ACC press release
- read the Philadelphia Inquirer article
- here's the Morris Daily Herald article (subscription required)
- read Cardiovascular Business article