Baltimore Hospitals Buying, Consolidating Doctors' Practices In Bid For Efficiency

Hospitals and other systems in the Baltimore area are "buying practices, forming management agreements or structuring joint ventures with primary care practices that cannot afford to buy necessary electronic health records systems, hire more support staff or add another physician" in a bid to consolidate primary care in the area and lower overhead, the Baltimore Business Journal reports. For many doctors, the cost of doing business in a small, office-based setting is becoming prohibitive.

"About three-fourths of hospital CEOs surveyed by the American Hospital Association last year said they are being approached more frequently by physicians interested in a job. Thirty-six percent of them said more physicians are asking hospitals to buy their practices, according to the November 2009 report." Some doctors like the arrangements because bigger hospitals have more clout negotiating with larger insurers on reimbursement rates, which means higher paychecks for doctors, but others dislike the loss of oversight in management of their practice. One hospital, St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Md., has put aside $5 million to buy primary care practices near Baltimore in the next two years (Graham, 5/3).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.