Patient spend rises after physicians integrate with hospitals, BCBSTX/Rice University study finds

Patient spending is estimated to be about $280 more when care is provided by hospital-owned physician practices versus physician-owned organizations, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The study was completed by researchers from Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine, both in Houston, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. For the analysis, researchers reviewed BCBSTX claims data from 2014-16 for Texas' four largest metropolitan areas.

When annual spending per patient was compared for patients receiving care from a hospital-owned physician practice versus an independent practice, researchers found the former resulted in patient spending that was 5.8 percentage points higher than the latter.

Researchers also found spending on durable medical equipment, imaging and outpatient care was significantly higher when administered by hospital-owned practices compared to independent practices. However, no significant differences in quality were measured between hospital-owned and physician-owned practices.

The study authors noted their analysis was limited by knowledge of physicians' network status and a lack of data from prescription drug claims.

View the full study here.

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