06 Sep Patients Win When Doctors Stay Independent

An article in Becker’s pointed us to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine analyzing the impact of hospital integration of physician practices on patient out-of-pocket spending in combination with an examination of quality measures.

Researchers from Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine conducted a joint study with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas to measure the level of association between vertical hospital-physician practice integration and both cost and quality of care.

What they found was that patients seeing doctors in hospital-owned practices incurred 5.8% higher medical costs than those visiting independent practices.

When breaking down their data into granular service types, they additionally found that spending on imaging for patients visiting hospital-owned practices was 13% (!) higher than for physician-owned practices. Spending on durable medical equivalent was close behind at 12.9% higher for hospital-owned practices.

This can’t all be attributed to the kinds of contracts hospitals can negotiate, or to facility fees. Further examination showed that overall utilization across all service types was higher for patients of hospital practices.

Finally, the study found no significant differences in terms of quality measures between the two practice types.

Why are we talking about this?

Our mission at speroMD is to support doctors in their efforts to stay independent. Independent practices are critical in the era of high-deductible health plans. With patients facing ever-increasing out-of-pocket costs, physician-owned practices help ease the financial burden placed on patients while still providing high quality care.

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