On Friday, I blogged about how we are going to share information as to the changes in health care by using the Meeting the Challenge of Health Care Change mantra. In Sunday's local newspaper there was an editorial that fits into our meeting the challenge initiative. The editorial was entitled, "More doctors are losing their independence" by Nat Hentoff. I wanted to make sure that our community knows that the environment is different in Cumberland. Nat paints all hospitals with a very broad brush in his editorial; it's not very flattering nor is it accurate. In Cumberland, physicians have chosen to either to remain independent or join the health system. If a physician chooses to be employed by WMHS, we will work with him or her to accommodate their desire to work for us. We do not, however, buy practices as Nat writes in his editorial piece. In addition, many local independent physicians have chosen to give up their hospital practice and dedicate themselves to an office practice exclusively. We have worked with them to achieve their goals. As a result, we have been forced to expand our hospitalist program in order to care for their patients when they are hospitalized.
In addition, Nat pretty much takes on the industry related to the economic changes that are occurring. As I have blogged in the past, the cost of health care is unsustainable. Throughout his editorial, Nat is placing all that is changing in health care squarely on the shoulders of hospitals. Changes in health care, especially the cost, are being driven from a variety of sources, primarily federal and state government, a host of other regulators / influencers, payers and also from within hospitals. We are making many changes in how we do business in an effort to comply with the changes being driven to get cost of the US health care system. We are now being paid differently. The model is no longer based on volume of services provided; it is now based on the value of the care provided. We will continue to treat patients in the most appropriate setting whether that is in the hospital or in an alternate location such as a clinic, diagnostic center, a physician's office or at home. Mr. Hentoff's closing paragraph of his editorial piece finally gets to the source of the issue, however misplaced his thinking may be, by applying his First Amendment rights at the polls to protest the end of physician independence.