As Hospitals Stay Mum About Departing Physicians, Patients Grow Frustrated

A physician leaving one health system for employment at another can create a headache for patients, many of whom are left clueless as to where their long-term provider moved to practice, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

Physician contracts often require physicians to practice at least 10 miles from the previous practice site and ban physicians from distributing information about their new practice and employment. Physicians who violate these contract clauses may be dinged with a financial penalty.

Patients featured in the report expressed frustration with not being able to learn where their physicians left to work and at the idea of starting over with another provider. Yet, health systems do not want to lose patients or revenue to physicians who left to work elsewhere.

The conundrum is especially evident in highly competitive markets, like Pittsburgh. Tom Bonacorsi, MD, recently left Pittsburgh Medical Associates to work for Highmark's provider network. He said he was contractually prohibited from contacting patients from his former practice, according to the report, but patients are still free to contact him. The caveat is that PMA doesn't want to disclose this information with the patient, he claims.

More Articles on Hospital-Physician Relationships:

Employing Physicians: Leverage the Honeymoon to Ensure Success for the Future
4 Tips to Successful Physician Recruitment and Retention Under Healthcare Reform
5 Questions Hospital Executives Should Ask Before Employing Physicians


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