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Physician Alignment, Collaboration, and Quality Care

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, September 13, 2011
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Employment of physicians is one of the main strategies healthcare leaders are using to align the interests of the doctors with those of the health system. However, that strategy is only one of many involved in creating a new platform with which to begin serious work on delivering the high quality and value that both the government and private payers are searching for in hospitals, health systems, and physician practices. 

Full employment outpaced the long dominant volunteer medical staff as the top medical staff model of hospitals and health systems in their dealings with physicians, by 76% to 62%, respectively, according to respondents to the new HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report, Physician Alignment: The Collaborative Care Disconnect.

“It surprised me that so many had a full employment model,” says Timothy D. Ranney, MD, MBA, lead advisor for the report and vice president and chief medical officer at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, a 489-staffed-bed unit of BJC Healthcare in St. Louis. “A few years ago, it was less than one in two, and, according to the survey, 70% plan on increasing that model.”

Ranney, whose own system has increased its number of employed physicians, cautions that employment doesn’t equal engagement or alignment, however. There’s more work to be done, as is evident in responses on level of engagement based on employment. While hospital and health system leaders report that just 2% of nonemployed physicians are completely engaged, they also report a meager 11% of employed physicians are completely engaged.

The overriding goal of a physician employment strategy needs to focus on quality, Ranney argues.

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