Over the past five years, the nation’s hospitals and health systems have been on a buying spree.
Their target: physician practices. A report from the Physicians Advocacy Institute shows that nearly four of 10 physicians are now employed by, and one out of four practices owned by, a hospital system.
The reasons why are clear; vertically integrated systems are more efficient, secure higher reimbursement and can better meet the mandates of emerging value-based reimbursement programs. There have been challenges. Profit margins for hospitals are slim, meaning often services are cut, and lower level providers brought in to manage costs. Plus, physicians used to autonomy have pushed back on efforts to control their actions, making it difficult to align goals. And patients are increasingly dissatisfied with a system, that while more efficient, often depersonalizes care and minimizes relationships.
A number of strategies to address these challenges have been explored. One often overlooked is the addition of concierge medicine. As hospitals look to grow, and as they acquire practices with existing concierge programs, it becomes more critical that they understand the different types of models, how they work and that leadership fully considers pros, cons, and opportunities.
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