Study finds hospital-employed physicians send more patients to higher-cost, lower-quality hospitals

A new study suggests hospital employment may not be so great for patients.

According to a Kaiser Health News report, a Stanford University study found physicians who are hospital-employed are much more likely to send their patients to that hospital. The problem with this is it increases chances more patients will go to higher-cost, lower-quality hospitals, according to KHN.

The authors of the study predicted patient hospital choice based on historical patterns found in millions of Medicare admissions from 2009, according to the report. They found hospital-employed physicians sent 83 percent of patients to the hospital they were employed by and that chances a patient would go to a certain hospital increased by one-third if a physician was employed by that hospital.

While these findings indicate a threat to healthy competition, they also indicate a threat to patients. According to the KHN report, patients were more likely to go to a hospital when their physician's practice was owned by that hospital even if it was associated with higher costs and lower quality.

Contrarily, the study may simply show hospitals acquire practices of physicians who already send most of their patients there. The authors of the study say more research is needed to clarify the implications of the report, according to KHN. The report also notes quality initiatives implemented since 2009 could have changed the trends discovered by the study.  

 

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