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Top Community Hospitals Named

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media, March 30, 2011

This week Thomson Reuters released its annual study of the nation's top hospitals and with it, a list of the top 100. The study evaluates performance in key areas: mortality; medical complications; patient safety; average length of patient stay; profitability; patient satisfaction; adherence to clinical standards of care; and readmission rates for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart failure, and pneumonia.

As I scrolled the list, I thought about what a boon these awards must be for, among other things, physician recruitment purposes. Whenever a hospital trying to woo a doctor can demonstrate that it's performing at a high level, sealing an employment deal with a new doctor is just that much easier.

But recruitment of doctors is getting tougher. A recent report by the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that the national shortage of doctors will quadruple to 91,500 doctors by 2020.

"The doctor shortage is reaching crisis proportions," said Mark Smith in a statement. Smith is president of physician search firm Merritt Hawkins. The firm has announced a pro bono physician search program designed to place a physician in a medically underserved area.

The usual cost for the service is between $20,000 and $30,000, a steep price for many hospitals, but especially for those in financially struggling communities. Merritt is waiving its fee both to assist an area that may be strapped but ailing, and to bring awareness to the growing problem of physician insufficiency.

The search competition is open to any hospital, medical group, or community with a critical, unmet need for a physician. Applications are due August 15. Merritt Hawkins will review them and select one winner based on the severity of need, the duration of the search, and the negative effect of not having physician services.

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