Healthcare Business News

Integrating employed docs a challenge for organizations: ACPE survey

By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: March 4, 2014 - 1:45 pm ET

While acceptance of physician employment grows, disagreement continues on how to engage, integrate and financially incentivize employed doctors into healthcare organizations, according to a survey by the American College of Physician Executives.

The Tampa, Fla.-based ACPE sent the survey electronically to its 11,000 members. Of the 617 individuals who responded, 66% agreed and 14% strongly agreed that the employed physicians in their organization are satisfied with their current integrated model. Also, 63% agreed and 22% strongly agreed that administrative leaders were satisfied.

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“This is a strong and important trend that is essential for healthcare to become more successful in delivering what the public actually wants,” Dr. Peter Angood, ACPE president and CEO, said in a release.

The percentage of employed physicians within ACPE members' organization was split evenly across the board. Eighteen percent reported 100% of their doctors were employed, and 23% said between 75% and 99% of their doctors were employed. Of the rest, 18% said half to 74% were employed, 23% said one quarter to 49%, and 18% had less than one quarter employed.

A similar trend occurred in the 1990s, the report noted, but it didn't work out because employed physicians at the time feared the loss of their autonomy and also experienced declines in income. The current trend could work out differently if employers properly align incentives, provide information technology support and have strong physician leadership, according to the report.

Only 53% of those surveyed thought that physicians were fully integrated into an organization's performance-improvement initiatives. Similarly, just 51% reported that there was a financial-incentive program in place that encouraged and rewarded doctors for being engaged in performance improvement.

Employed physicians don't necessarily feel they have a stake in the financial success of their organizations. Only 40% said they considered employed physicians to be fully integrated into the financial success of the organization; and just 38% said their organizations had financial incentives in place to encourage employed doctors to be actively engaged in the financial success of their organizations.

The report quoted two physicians who explained the disconnect.

“We have to deal with MBA-types who have no comprehension of what it takes physically, emotionally and logistically to manage a patient,” said Dr. Ajoy Kumar, a family physician in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“Healthcare is changing rapidly, and decisions are being made about it by people who do not interact with patients,” Dr. Paul Gausman, a family physician in Erie, Pa., told the ACPE. “Physician leaders provide insight across that divide, and successful organizations will be the ones listening to them.”

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks

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