Which hospital a patient goes to for care can depend on who owns a doctor’s practice.
Why did hospitals binge-buy doctor practices in recent years?
To improve the coordination of care, lower costs and upgrade patient experiences, say hospitals. To raise costs, gain pricing power and steer patient referrals, say skeptics.
Researchers at Stanford University tested those opposing arguments by comparing referral patterns between independent doctors and those working for hospitals.
Ownership by a hospital “dramatically increases” odds that a doctor will admit patients there instead of another, nearby hospital, they found. Worse, from the viewpoint of reformers, hospital ownership of the doctor practice boosts chances that patients will go to higher-cost, lower-quality hospitals.
“One of the things that was most surprising to me about the
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