Accreditation

Study: Quality isn't affected by physician employment

Accreditation Insider, September 20, 2016

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A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that between 2003 and 2012, the number of hospitals hiring physicians jumped up by 13%. Despite this, the authors caution that the glut in physicians will have little impact on care quality.

Forty-two percent of hospitals were employing physicians in 2012, the majority of which were teaching hospitals, nonprofits, and larger facilities. The study’s authors then looked at key quality metrics between 803 hospitals that switched to the employment model vs. 2,085 hospitals that didn’t. They wanted to see if there was a noticeable difference in length of stay, patient satisfaction, mortality, and 30-day readmissions when hospitals changed their employment style. What the researchers found was that hiring physicians had almost no impact on any of these metrics. Mortality rates, for example, were only 0.1% better in hospitals that switched compared to those that didn’t. The only exception was for pneumonia (secret and public) which saw a 0.6% improvement in switched hospitals.

"Our study, which used contemporary national data, suggests that a fundamental improvement in care delivery will require more than mere changes in hospital-physician integration, and if physician employment is a key ingredient, it must be linked to other key goals, such as hospital prioritization of quality, to be successful," the authors wrote.
 



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