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Analysis

Physician Affiliations Don't Affect Quality—Yet

By Debra Shute  
   September 29, 2016

Hospital employment appears to have a neutral effect on clinical quality, but that could change if healthcare leaders partner more effectively with physicians.

Think employing physicians at your hospital will inherently boost clinical quality? Think again, suggests a study published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine. But don't jump to the conclusion that tight physician integration harms care, either.

In fact, researchers found that switching to an employment model had no effect on hospitals' readmission rates, lengths of stay, or patient satisfaction metrics.


1 in 2 Physicians Demoralized, Dissatisfied


For the study, researchers compared quality data for 2,085 hospitals that don't employ physicians to the same metrics for 803 hospitals that converted to an integration model during the study period.

Up to two years after hospitals began employing physicians, the 30-day mortality rates for patients with acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia stayed virtually the same—10.8% at "switching" hospitals and 10.9% at hospitals that had no employment relationships.

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Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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