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What Kind of Physicians Will Be Recruited Under the ACO Model? (Part 2 of 2)

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In a previous posting, we looked at a study from The Medicus Firm examining the types of physicians that health systems and healthcare employers would be looking to recruit under the ACO model. Here are some more details from the HealthLeaders Media article on the subject, starting with a finding that surprised the researchers.

Jim Stone, president of Medicus and president-elect of the National Association of Physician Recruiters, was expecting the study to reveal that most employers and systems expected physician recruitment to be even tougher under the ACO model, since they’d be looking for physicians who shared the same value-based care philosophy that has taken over healthcare and replaced the traditional fee-for-service.

However, a little over one-third of those surveyed, 35 percent, expressed concerns and worries about recruiting under ACOs.

Despite this, Stone still thinks physician recruiting is going to be a challenge, since physicians are aging, retirements are escalating, and the physician shortage is getting more and more pronounced every year.

He told HealthLeaders, "I don't think there's any way you can look at it and say it's not going to be more difficult. I think most people have come to terms with the fact that recruiting doctors is hard. Every year it takes us longer on average to fill the searches that we're engaged to work in."

Apparently, the impact the ACO model will have on healthcare hasn’t fully struck some of these healthcare systems and employers. Perhaps that’s because some are still holding out and resisting it. Perhaps it’s just lack of foresight, even though foresight is something healthcare professionals desperately need these days.

What employers do understand is that recruitment processes and goals will have to be reevaluated and altered under ACOs. The survey found that 70 percent recognize this. It also found that 46 percent expect to see a minor uptick in recruitment volumes for their organizations under ACOs, while 80 percent believe they will be more actively recruiting non-physician providers. 56.1 percent expect to place an even greater emphasis on primary-care physicians, however, and 75 percent want new physicians to be employees of their system.

Finally, 57 percent of those surveyed were not planning to become an ACO. That was the one stat that caught my attention and the one that also perplexed Stone.

“I was surprised to see that number, I thought it was high,” he told HealthLeaders. “I think there continues to be hesitation, a kind of wait and see." Then he added, “Is Romney going to repeal the whole thing, or isn't he?”

Obviously, this interview was conducted before President Obama won reelection. I have to wonder now how that 57 percent feels, whether they’re still waiting and seeing or whether they’ve accepted (or resigned themselves to the fact, as the case may be) that ACOs and healthcare reform are the future of healthcare in this country.

Now that the Supreme Court and the electorate has essentially upheld the bill, how will this change the perspectives of healthcare reform’s lone hold-outs?

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