Culture change, management expertise essential to doc-hospital alignment

Although the number of hospital-employed physicians has increased dramatically in recent years--and is expected to keep rising--these relationships are rife with pitfalls.

"A new generation of physicians are looking for employment as their vehicle of how they are going to practice quality care," Luke Peterson, principal of Minneapolis-based consultancy Health System Advisors, noted at the Becker's Hospital Review Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 10. "However, for some hospitals the result of this employment has been big operational losses," he added. "We need to figure out how to create more stability and capture more of the population if we are going to go about this common standard."

One of the keys to success of hospital-owned groups, said Allen D. Kemp, M.D., CEO of Centura Health Physician Group in Colorado, is to make sure the hospital doesn't just buy the practice or hire its physicians, but ensures that necessary changes to the practice's culture or operations take place."The challenge is to get the hospital leadership to understand you need to make an investment in infrastructure with knowledge and resources that are experienced with managing physician groups," he said.

Further, when physicians make the leap from private practice to employed positions, they can experience frustration over the loss of autonomy especially if management isn't properly attuned to physicians' needs, noted an article from Medscape Today.

"The facilities that have been doing this longer manage their physicians differently," Tommy Bohannon, senior director of recruitment and development training for Merritt Hawkins & Associates. "They go out of their way to involve physicians more on committees, decisions, recruitment, and policy-making."

To learn more:
- read the article about the annual meeting
- see the related story