Attorneys outline challenges of hospital-physician relationships

The Journal Record
By Brian Brus
Dec. 2, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY – The health care industry is facing a difficult shift in the traditional business relationship between physicians and hospitals as regulations and costs continue to increase, attorney Kevin D. Gordon said Thursday.

Gordon and three of his colleagues from the Crowe & Dunlevy law firm in Oklahoma City presented some of the challenges and suggested responses to adopting new models of delivering hospital health care at the Oklahoma Hospital Association’s annual convention and trade show downtown. Gordon chairs the firm’s health care litigation practice group and co-chairs the insurance practice group and employee benefits and Employee Retirement Income Security Act practice group.

Law firm partner Eric Fisher warned of repeating mistakes made in the 1990s, such as hospitals posting huge losses on acquired practices and many practices sold back at substantial discounts. Integrated physicians also tended to be unhappy and their productivity lagged, he said.

Fisher said the Oklahoma City metro area has seen several large private practice acquisitions in recent months and predicted more to follow in step with national trends.

“We have to balance practice management and practice autonomy more carefully with these physicians better than we did in the past,” he said. “Physicians are coming in; they want to be involved. And frankly, the hospitals want to have them involved in management. … They are a different breed.”

He also urged more third-party valuations to determine how much to pay for private practices.

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