Factors Driving Physician-Hospital Alignment in Orthopaedic Surgery
BACKGROUND: The relationships between physicians and hospitals are viewed as central to the proposition of delivering high-quality health care at a sustainable cost. Over the last two decades, major changes in the scope, breadth, and complexities of these relationships have emerged. Despite understanding the need for physician-hospital alignment, identification and understanding the incentives and drivers of alignment prove challenging. QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: Our review identifies the primary drivers of physician alignment with hospitals from both the physician and hospital perspectives. Further, we assess the drivers more specific to motivating orthopaedic surgeons to align with hospitals. METHODS: We performed a comprehensive literature review from 1992 to March 2012 to evaluate published studies and opinions on the issues surrounding physician-hospital alignment. Literature searches were performed in both MEDLINE(®) and Health Business™ Elite. RESULTS: Available literature identifies economic and regulatory shifts in health care and cultural factors as primary drivers of physician-hospital alignment. Specific to orthopaedics, factors driving alignment include the profitability of orthopaedic service lines, the expense of implants, and issues surrounding ambulatory surgery centers and other ancillary services. CONCLUSIONS: Evolving healthcare delivery and payment reforms promote increased collaboration between physicians and hospitals. While economic incentives and increasing regulatory demands provide the strongest drivers, cultural changes including physician leadership and changing expectations of work-life balance must be considered when pursuing successful alignment models. Physicians and hospitals view each other as critical to achieving lower-cost, higher-quality health care.
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ABSTRACT: The concept of "alignment" between physicians and hospitals is a popular buzzword in the age of health care reform. Despite their often tumultuous histories, physicians and hospitals find themselves under increasing pressures to work together toward common goals. However, effective alignment is more than just simple cooperation between parties. The process of achieving alignment does not have simple, universal steps. Alignment will differ based on individual situational factors and the type of specialty involved. Ultimately, however, there are principles that underlie the concept of alignment and should be a part of any physician-hospital alignment efforts. In orthopedic surgery, alignment involves the clinical, administrative, financial, and even personal aspects of a surgeon's practice. It must be based on the principles of financial interest, clinical authority, administrative participation, transparency, focus on the patient, and mutual necessity. Alignment can take on various forms as well, with popular models consisting of shared governance and comanagement, gainsharing, bundled payments, accountable care organizations, and other methods. As regulatory and financial pressures continue to motivate physicians and hospitals to develop alignment relationships, new and innovative methods of alignment will also appear. Existing models will mature and evolve, with individual variability based on local factors. However, certain trends seem to be appearing as time progresses and alignment relationships deepen, including regional and national collaboration, population management, and changes in the legal system. This article explores the history, principles, and specific methods of physician-hospital alignment and its critical importance for the future of health care delivery. [Orthopedics. 2015; 38(9):e806-e812.].
Available from: Stephen Yu
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