Over the past decade hospitals have increasingly decided to employ physicians. In 2003, hospitals employed about 29% of physicians and that has dramatically increased to 42% of hospitals in 2012. Hospitals argued that this would increase productivity and was needed to coordinate care and improve quality.
A study in the September 20, 2016 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine found quality of care was essentially the same at hospitals that directly employ physicians compared to those that do not.
The study looked at 30-day mortality, readmissions and length of stay for Medicare beneficiaries with three medical conditions: acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and pneumonia. By using data from the American Hospital Association, the authors compared the quality metrics at 803 hospitals that directly employed physicians versus 2,085 hospitals that don’t.
Thirty-day mortality rates at both types of hospitals were almost the same. The mortality rate at hospitals that employed physicians for over two years was 10.8% compared to 10.9% at hospitals that didn’t directly employ physicians.
The researchers found there was “no effect of switching to an employment model” on hospitals’ readmission rates, length of stay or patient satisfaction metrics.