Survey: American Cardiologists Increasingly Integrating Practices, Abandoning Independence; Health Reform Seen as Major Factor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- A new nationwide survey has found that the days of the independent cardiologist may be numbered.

The survey of more than 150 cardiology practices, conducted by MedAxiom, reveals that heart doctors are increasingly seeking to combine their practices, or integrate them with other health care organizations, such as hospitals.  The doctors and other health professionals who answered the survey reported that more than half of their practices (60%) have either already fully integrated or are considering integration; only 28% said they are not currently considering consolidation or will never consider it.

This trend is increasingly important as millions of American "baby boomers" reach the age where they may require the attention of health care specialists, such as cardiologists, on an ongoing basis as they get older.

Survey respondents who have completed, or are in the midst of, the integration of their practices said that both their compensation and job satisfaction have increased as a result. "We knew health care reform was coming, and wanted to team in the marketplace, to be better positioned to address issues such as quality of care and fee reimbursement as this environment evolves," said Cathie Biga, President/Chief Executive Officer of Cardiovascular Management of Illinois, and president of the Cardiology Advocacy Alliance.  Biga noted that the cardiologists in her practice insisted on having substantial impact on the nature of care delivered to patients under the integrated model.  "We looked at the range of responsibilities that our doctors would have.  Our doctors have taken an approach that benefits everyone, especially their patients," she said.

"Our dedication to quality and personal care has not changed," said Gregory Timmers, Chief Executive Officer at Prairie Cardiovascular in Springfield, Illinois.  "The fact is that health care in its current form does not work the way it's delivered.  We are trying to put together a model that will deliver significantly enhanced coordination among all physicians in hospitals, while maintaining the trust-based relationships already established between our doctors and their patients."  Prairie Cardiovascular has operated under an integrated model for more than a year.

"Integration offers additional benefits at the very time when practices are coming under greater pressure to provide improved care while keeping costs to a minimum," said Pat White, MedAxiom's President.  "Our members indicate that they are pursuing integration, but not at the cost of delivering value to their patients." White added that many MedAxiom members have begun, or are exploring, the benefits of combining their practices to provide so-called ambulatory care, as well as integrating their practices into the operations of hospital systems and assisting in managing these critical service lines.  He noted that of the practices that have already completed integration, the cardiologists and other personnel said they would recommend integration to their colleagues, with special attention being paid to issues such as governance and practice style.

About MedAxiom

MedAxiom is a comprehensive subscription-based service provider, information and networking resource exclusively for cardiology practices encompassing academic cardiology organizations, hospital-owned cardiology practices as well as physician-owned cardiology groups. Based in Neptune Beach, Florida, MedAxiom supports over 300 cardiology practices across the United States, representing more than 5,400 cardiologists.  More information is available at