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Opinion: Independent physicians keep healthcare costs low, improve patient satisfaction

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Opinion: Independent physicians keep healthcare costs low, improve patient satisfaction

Healthcare tech provider Kareo and independent physicians respond to Kocher editorial in WSJ with an "Amen!"

In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on July 31 titled "How I Was Wrong About ObamaCare," Bob Kocher, a former member of the Obama White House and adviser to the president on health-care policy, stated, "What I know now, though, is that having every provider in health care 'owned' by a single organization is more likely to be a barrier to better care." Responding to the op-ed piece, the nation's leading provider of clinical and business management software to independent practices has this to say. "All over the country, we hear our customers saying, 'Amen' to Bob's realization," said Dan Rodrigues, founder and CEO of Kareo. "The facts are telling."

Private practice is where I believe the most creative, flexible and innovative healthcare will always come from."

Rodrigues went on to quote a number of timely statistics:

  • J. Michael McWilliams, Warren Alpert Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study that Bob Kocher referenced in his article, stated, "Some have presumed that forming a large hospital system that owns a lot of outpatient practices is a prerequisite for Accountable Care Organization success," McWilliams said. "We do not find this to be the case." One reason for this finding, the authors note, is that independent physician groups have stronger incentives to prevent hospitalizations than hospital-owned groups. (Harvard Medical, April 13, 2016)
  • According to data presented in an article in Health Affairs in Sept 2014, independent practices reduce avoidable hospitalizations by 33%.
  • A study by JAMA in 2014 illustrated a substantial difference in mean costs for services provided by independent doctors, hospital-owned doctors and multi-hospital-owned doctors. The study highlighted that costs with hospital-owned doctors increased by 40% while costs with multi-hospital-owned doctors increased by 56%.
  • According to a 2015 study by the American Medical Association, "The majority (60.7%) of physicians were in small practices of 10 or fewer physicians, and that practice size changed very little between 2012 and 2014 in the face of profound structural reforms to health care delivery," said AMA President-electAndrew W. Gurman, M.D.
  • In addition, the AMA study suggested that the movement of independent physicians to hospital employees has been minimal:
    • The share of physicians who were practice owners decreased from 53.2% to 50.8%
    • The share of physicians who were in solo practice decreased 18.4% to 17.1%
    • The share of physicians who were directly employed by a hospital increased from 5.6% to 7.2%

          These statistics are in sharp contrast to predictions suggested by another prominent study.

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