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Banner Healthcare Cancels Physicians Group Contract – Hiring ER and Hospitalists to Work Directly For the Hospital With Le

Posted Jun 10 2010 8:35am

Thunderbird Hospitalist Group and United Hospitalists were the 2 affected physician groups affected.  The article indicates that some positions were filled by hiring doctors from the group but not all.  This is also pretty short notice to the 2 groups as the decision to switch to hire “employee physicians” was made rather quickly as both medical groups had submitted contracts for renewal.  image

So far only 6 out of 32 physicians have signed on with Banner.  Many of the physicians had some very long term experience at the hospital with over 15 years experience.  We are seeing more and more of this type of activity around the country. In California, we have laws where hospitals cannot directly hire physicians so legally this could not happen there; however it still gets ugly as we have the City of Hope and their physician’s group at odds and tied up in court. 

In reading this entire article, the “short” notice and putting everyone through the contract drill was especially irritating as those physicians have families to care for and the physician’s group could have spent that time perhaps working on other projects instead of one that was going nowhere.  Hospital contracts with physician’s groups are getting cancelled all over for a number of reasons and it all comes back to money.  In Texas last year as an example, the ER physician’s group was fired as they refused to “play the game” and start admitting patients who really did not need to be inpatients.  When revenue was down to cover basic costs, this was what the plan of action was to be.

Hospital Admissions are Down – ER Doctors are Fired – Texas Medical Association image

This is not out of the ordinary with business intelligence and efficiencies entering the picture as I hear from doctors who have told me they are told at the meetings they attend that they are not “meeting their quotas”, in other words their “admitting goals”.  If there are not enough patients admitted to generate funds, the fixed costs at the hospital can’t be covered and this is why today we have approximately 55% of the hospitals in the US operating in the red.  To add to all of this confusion here, health insurers are asking hospitals to take a cut in compensation as was in the news recently with Blue Cross asking hospitals in the Boston area to take a cut or freeze their compensation. 

It appears that the economic conditions are in fact driving all of this and we probably have not heard the last and more disruption and chaos to taking care of the patient is sure to erupt.  We certainly could use a sense of balance today and granted Health IT is certainly driving some improvements and getting more patients involved, but where is this all going to end up I wonder. 

The link above contains a movie trailer of the new documentary that talks about the lifestyles and work flows that are facing doctors today, especially the young an new doctors, so combine this sector of healthcare to the confusion and upstaging contract efforts and you have a pretty big mess with a lot of doctors who are beginning to dislike the politics of healthcare and are working with current constraints that go beyond taking care of the patient, and in the end it is both the patients and the physicians who are on the losing end as the “human and caring” side of healthcare as we have known it is in fact an endangered commodity and we are all having to unfortunately face certain aspects of this for the name of money, profits and control.  BD 

An expired contract at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center has led to the departure of more than two dozen doctors who covered the emergency department and other services for the Glendale hospital.

Banner Thunderbird decided not to renew contracts with two doctors groups that expired June 1, opting to employ its own physicians.

Representatives of the two doctors groups, Thunderbird Hospitalist Group and United Hospitalists, said they were caught off-guard by Banner Thunderbird's decision to switch to employed physicians. They submitted bids to renew their contracts earlier this year but were informed a little more than a month ago that contracts would not be renewed.

"We went through the selection process, made it to the finals and, in the last 30 days, they decided to scrap the whole thing and employ everybody," said D.J. Sensharma, one of six physician owners of United Hospitalists. "That led to a lot of physician discontentment."

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