Hospitals woo more heart docs with employment

Reinforcing the trend toward hospital integration, the number of cardiologists obtaining hospital employment continues to rise, according to a survey released yesterday by the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

In fact, hospital employment has practically tripled from 8 percent in 2007 to 24 percent in 2012, while physician-owned practices dropped from 73 percent in 2007 to 60 percent now, according to the survey of more than 2,500 practices.

The ACC data also shows the percentage of hospital-owned cardiologists (35 percent) equals the percentage of those in private practice.

However, it's not only cardiologists making the jump to hospital employment. For instance, OhioHealth is now employing multi-specialty physicians from Smith Clinic, the Marion Star reported. The health system hopes its new employment model will attract more physicians in the community and expand its referral status.

The system is employing physicians to drive quality and lowers costs. "[I]t's so much easier when we're aligned with physicians in these types of arrangements. That's what creates value for our patients," John Sanders, president of OhioHealth's Marion General Hospital, told the Star.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts hospital operator Steward Health Care System last week added multi-specialty Hawthorn Medical Associates to its network of providers.

But despite health systems scooping up more cardiologists and specialty physicians, some healthcare leaders claim aggressive doc acquisitions hike costs and leave patients stuck in the middle.

For more:
- here's the survey announcement
- read the Marion Star article