By John Prout
You may have read about a growing number of Greater Cincinnati physicians electing to join large health care systems. While not all physicians feel this option is right for them, nationally, the number of independent physicians employed by health systems is expected to grow by five percent each of the next three years. By the end of this year, less than a third of physicians are expected to be in private practice.
Why is this happening?
- Today’s patient-centered care requires a team of physicians and experts. This closely aligned network of professionals is essential to providing the highest-quality care.
- Hospitals and physicians are increasingly being paid for outcomes, not the number of patients they see. To improve outcomes, better care coordination is needed through stronger hospital links with physicians.
- Health care systems increasingly address specific community needs, which often guide how we recruit and retain physicians.
- More young physicians are interested in joining health systems to focus on patient care rather than deal with the cost and administrative burden of private practice.
Alignment brings new benefits
There are many benefits of physician-hospital alignment, too. One example is better access to specialists for low-income patients. This is particularly true for patients with Medicaid coverage, who historically have had less access to independent specialists.
From a patient’s perspective, physician employment by a hospital may be invisible, as many employed physicians continue to work in the same offices as when they were in private practice.
One principle guides our work—to provide high-quality care for all of our patients. The fact that our physician partners can increasingly focus on what they do best—providing outstanding medical care— benefits everyone.