Symposium: Aligning Physician and Hospital Incentives 16 articles
Historically, physicians as participants in healthcare governance were shunned because of perceived potential for conflict of interest. This maxim is being revisited as health systems begin to appreciate the value presented by physician leaders.
Recently, quality, financial, and regulatory demands have driven physicians to seek alignment opportunities with hospitals. The motivation for alignment on the part of physicians and hospitals is now accelerating because the new paradigm under healthcare reform requires an increased focus on improving quality, cost, and efficiency.
There is broad recognition that the healthcare crisis in the United States is going to require a response and change in clinical practice. The management structure of Geisinger Health System is unique, and this has the potential to change the dynamics of surgeon-administration alignment.
The future direction of American health care has become increasingly controversial during the last decade. As healthcare costs, quality, and delivery have come under intense scrutiny, physicians play evolving roles as “advocates” for both their profession and patients via healthcare policy. Hospital-physician alignment is critical to the future success of advocacy among orthopaedic surgeons, as both hospitals and physicians are key stakeholders in health care and can work together to influence major health policy decisions.
The increasing cost of providing health care is a national concern. Healthcare spending related to providing hospital care is one of the primary drivers of healthcare spending in the United States. Adoption of advanced medical technologies accounts for the largest percentage of growth in healthcare spending in the United States when compared with other developed countries. Within the specialty of orthopaedic surgery, a variety of implants can result in similar outcomes for patients in several areas of clinical care. However, surgeons often do not know the cost of implants used in a specific procedure or how the use of an implant or technology affects the overall cost of the episode of care.
Physician-hospital alignments are becoming more common in today’s healthcare environment. In the community setting, these relationships can impact quality of care as well as physician and hospital bottom lines. Alignment strategies take many different forms and can be advantageous to both the community orthopaedist and the community hospital, but certain key factors must be present to prevent a failed effort. Both the physician and hospital must be clear about their goals and expectations to overcome barriers and ensure success.
The key to successfully aligning hospitals and physicians is financial integration and joint incentives for academic, quality, and clinical productivity. Many physician practices and health systems are moving toward closer integration, but mainly through consolidation and employment strategies.
Orthopaedic surgery practices can provide substantial value to healthcare systems. Increasingly, healthcare administrators are speaking of the need for alignment between physicians and healthcare systems. However, physicians often do not understand what healthcare administrators value and therefore have difficulty articulating the value they create in discussions with their hospital or healthcare organization. Many health systems and hospitals use service lines as an organizational structure to track the relevant data and manage the resources associated with a particular type of care, such as musculoskeletal care. Understanding service lines and their management can be useful for orthopaedic surgeons interested in interacting with their hospital systems.
A poor understanding of cost among healthcare providers may contribute to high healthcare expenditures. Currently, it is unclear whether and how much surgeons know about the costs of implantable medical devices (IMDs).
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.
Critical Roles of Orthopaedic Surgeon Leadership in Healthcare Systems to Improve Orthopaedic Surgical Patient Safety
The prevention of medical and surgical harm remains an important public health problem despite increased awareness and implementation of safety programs. Successful introduction and maintenance of surgical safety programs require both surgeon leadership and collaborative surgeon-hospital alignment. Documentation of success of such surgical safety programs in orthopaedic practice is limited.
Developing a high-efficiency operating room (OR) for total joint arthroplasty (TJA) in an academic setting is challenging given the preexisting work cultures, bureaucratic road blocks, and departmental silo mentalities. Also, academic institutions and aligned surgeons must have strategies to become more efficient and productive in the rapidly changing healthcare marketplace to ensure future financial viability.
The growth of consumer-directed health plans has sparked increased demand for information regarding the cost and quality of healthcare services, including total joint arthroplasty (TJA). However, the factors that influence patients’ choice of provider when pursuing elective orthopaedic care, such as TJA, are poorly understood.