Monday, April 12, 2010

Study Charges "Physician Induced Demand"

As bad as the closing of sixty physician-owned hospitals may be, there is some justifiable cause for concern. Medical News Today reports on a study of Florida "surgicenters" indicating "physician induced demand" of certain procedures over other procedures with lower "incentives".

Physician-Ownership Of Ambulatory Surgery Centers Linked To Higher Volume Of Surgeries -

The authors analyzed data from Florida, using the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project's State Ambulatory Surgery Databases, revealing "a significant association between physician-ownership of surgicenters and greater use" of certain outpatient procedures. And, the "data reveal that the acquisition of ownership status coincided with significant increases in a physician's use of carpal tunnel release, cataract excision, colonoscopy, and knee arthroscopy," the authors report.

"If our observed trends do reflect physician-induced demand, then possible remedies include revising current federal law to require public disclosure of investment arrangements or barring surgicenter ownership by small groups of physicians, for whom incentives are greatest," the authors write (Hollingsworth, Ye, Strope, Krein and Hollenbeck, April 2010).
Health Affairs
There is definitely a problem here if it can be conclusively shown doctors are favoring increased profits over patient care, which is a charge made by supporters of government controlled health care, Obamacare. However, if the physician-owned facilities are providing the best care the patient requires as opposed to whatever care private or government insurance is willing to pay for, then I don't see any problem with doctors preferring one procedure over another or one facility over another. And to keep the services within a circle of like-minded providers is not uncommon in any activity so long as it is not done to the detriment of the patients physical or financial well being.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

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