Hospital system examines outsourcing ER docs

A South Florida hospital system is considering outsourcing its emergency department physicians, physician assistants and advance nurse practitioners, leaving nurses as the only in-house ER medical providers, the Miami Herald reported this week.

The proposal from the Jackson Health System, a six-hospital network that includes Miami-Dade County's only Level 1 adult and pediatric trauma center, drew immediate criticism from the local healthcare professionals union, which called ER privatization a "tragedy."

"A private company would be motivated to put profits over patients," SEIU Local 1991 President Martha Baker said, according to the Herald report. "Jackson's doctors and nurses are dedicated to providing the best service at the lowest cost. We just need management's support to make it happen."

The hospital system also is considering outsourcing its billing and collection services, Carlos Migoya, CEO of the hospital system, told county officials in an email, according to the article. No decision has been made, he said.

One of Jackson's hospitals already outsources physician services, Migoya said in the email, the Herald reported.

A recent report by California Healthline suggested three major factors are likely to drive a growing trend toward healthcare outsourcing. They are:

  • Information technology, which traditionally embraces outsourcing.
  • Healthcare reform, by increasing the number of people in the healthcare system and changing the way delivery is funded.
  • Cost-containment efforts.

But Jackson may be ahead of the curve in considering outsourcing its ER medical specialists.

"Outsourcing will probably grow quickly, maybe even dramatically, in some areas like IT. But in other areas, especially the hands-on clinical parts of health care, it will be much slower," Joanne Spetz, a professor at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and Center for the Health Professions at the University of California-San Francisco, told California Healthline.

To learn more:
- read the Miami Herald article
- check out the California Healthcare report