Hospitals Plan Joint Efforts To Increase Efficiency

An association of California hospitals has proposed creating a foundation to supply doctors to at least 20 of its 160 members, with more likely to join if the project takes off, The Wall Street Journal reports. The foundation "would own clinics and centralize administrative matters including billing and electronic medical records," and it shows another step in efforts to align "doctors and hospitals, a trend expected to be accelerated by the health overhaul." Critics -- including doctors and health plans -- are already worrying the move could stifle competition and drive up costs. While hospitals in other states are moving to consolidate, the plan usually "involves acquisition of doctor practices by hospitals, but in California and a few other states hospitals aren't generally allowed to employ physicians directly" (Mathews, 5/14).

Another hospital coalition in the news today serves a different purpose: the Healthier Hospitals Initiative seeks to "eliminate waste, recycle, improve nutrition and do more to generally green-up its health care system," Maryland's Gazette Newspapers reports. MedStar Health, Kaiser Permanente, Advocate Healthcare, Catholic Healthcare West, Hospital Corporation of America and Partners Healthcare have all joined the program (Shay, 5/14).

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