Why join a hospital-owned practice?

Thinking about joining a hospital-owned physician practice? Find out what questions you should ask before making this decision.

Q: I am considering joining a hospital-owned physician practice and want to make an informed decision if I decide to make this change. What traits should I look for in successful hospital-owned physician organizations?

A: First, ask the hospital or health system representative to describe the support or management team that is tasked with the physician group's success. Are the physicians organized as a "real" group, or is it more like a conglomeration of physicians functioning independently? Successful physician organizations are well-defined, and have organizational charts and clear reporting relationships. Ask for sample monthly reports that are given to the physicians. Successful groups provide regular reports that track important key indicators that are relevant to the compensation model.

Also ask to see the business plan or reason for the development of the physician group. Look for health systems that are developing physician groups for more than defensive reasons. Also, the hospital's strategy must match your healthcare philosophy and beliefs. Because most hospitals and health systems now employ physicians, it is vital that you find an employer that matches your culture and needs-if you choose to seek employment. Moving into employment is a major step and involves detailed research and consideration of the hiring organization. It might turn out to be a short-lived situation without careful study.

Answers to readers' questions were provided by Thomas J. Ferkovic, RPh, MS, managing director, and Daniel E. Clark, MBA, senior consultant, SS&G Healthcare Services LLC in Akron, Ohio. Send your practice management questions to medec@advanstar.com Also engage at http://www.twitter.com/MedEconomics and http://www.facebook.com/MedicalEconomics.