07/17/09 — Hospital tries new incentive to recruit doctors

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Hospital tries new incentive to recruit doctors

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 17, 2009 1:46 PM

There's a new way of doing business at Wayne Memorial Hospital, as recruitment efforts reflect the growing trend of doctors turning over some of the business responsibilities to hospitals, officials said.

"More and more physicians, particularly the newer ones finishing school and training, are not interested in starting their own practice," said Tom Bradshaw, vice president of operations. "What they would prefer to do is turn the business portion over to the organizations that have the expertise to run the business side of a physician's practice."

Newer physicians are recognizing this, and now so are hospitals in communities hiring them, Bradshaw said.

"Many of them are being employed by existing groups," he explained. "What the hospital is essentially doing is offering that employment opportunity to those who want to do that."

Wayne Memorial has already run into that, he said -- physicians interested in coming to Goldsboro but who didn't want to join an existing practice or start their own practice.

At Tuesday's meeting of Wayne Health Corporation, operated under the umbrella of the hospital, the board of directors voted to establish Wayne Health Physicians as a nonprofit practice. It will be operated "distinct and separate" from the hospital, said William Paugh, hospital president and CEO.

"What we're trying to do here is establish a separate corporation that will really house the contracts and any relationship we have with employee physicians," he said. "What we're finding is that more and more physicians are interested in having a relationship that's employment -- rather than the traditional model for physicians' practice. Rather than put this under the hospital and that creates some other complications, it just seems simpler to create a vehicle that houses this."

The move will allow the hospital to be more competitive in its recruitment efforts, Bradshaw said.

"It's kind of like having another department to the hospital," he explained. "They're in a different location, but they're still a part of us. A lot of people (already) think that the doctors that practice here are employed by the hospital."

Until now, that has not been the case. Many area physicians operate independently but have hospital privileges.

"I explain it this way," Bradshaw said. "A hospital to a doctor is like a courtroom is to an attorney. They come here to practice their trade but they're not necessarily employed by the hospital."

That's changing, though, as more and more are employed by hospitals. It's a "new evolving model," Bradshaw said, with candidates typically finding and renting their own space while the hospital hires staff and handles the business end.

"They will be salaried but they'll also be on a production basis," he said, which equates to, "the more they produce, the better they'll do."

The effort already seems to be paying off, with a plastic surgeon -- Dr. Ben Eskra from Reading, Pa. -- expected to start Sept. 1, Bradshaw said.

"He's really the first one coming into that employment model," he said. "We have not had a plastic surgeon for a couple years, so a lot of people have had to go out of town (for treatment). This will be bringing back a resource to the community ... (and) just simply allows us to be more successful in getting the physicians we need for this community."

The hope is that others will follow suit. Paugh told the board this week that psychiatrists and a family practitioner are also being courted by the hospital and might be hired in the coming months.