The proportion of hospitals employing physicians has increased over the past decade, but there is no evidence that this model improves quality of care. The findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Historically, U.S. hospitals were seen as "workshops" for physicians, and efforts to employ doctors were discouraged or prohibited. In more recent years, this thinking has changed and hospitals have begun to integrate a physician workforce that could be incentivized to focus on quality metrics, share common information systems, and comply with clinical guidelines. It is not known if switching to this integration model improves quality of care.
Researchers studied the mortality rates, 30-day readmission rates, length of stay, and patient satisfaction scores for common medical conditions for 803 switching hospitals compared with 2,085 non-switching control hospitals. They also looked at characteristics of hospitals that switched. They found that more hospitals are hiring physicians (29 percent in 2003 vs 42 percent in 2012), but there was no association between switching to the employment model and improved outcomes in any of the quality metrics examined. Switching hospitals were more likely to be large or major teaching hospitals and less likely to be for-profit institutions.