What hospitals closures mean for physicians

Seven physician leaders joined Becker's to discuss how increasing hospital closures and service line cuts are — or are not — affecting physicians. 

Question: How are increasing hospital closures affecting physicians?

Editor's note: These responses were edited lightly for brevity and clarity. 

Min Ho Cho, MD. Assistant Professor of Medicine at UMass Chan Medical School-Baystate (Springfield, Mass.): I don't think it does affect physicians. There are lots of jobs available for physicians.

Marsha Haley, MD. Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at University of Pittsburgh: Hospital closures affect both physicians and their patients. Depending on the local market and the specialty, the physician may have to uproot their family and move to an entirely different area. Patients may lose their physicians and/or access to medical care, especially in underserved/rural areas.

Shalini Modi, MD. Service Chief of Cardiology at Henry Ford West Bloomfield (Mich.): Physicians get affected as their patients now have to travel farther for complex care and testing. This leads to delay in providing appropriate care as there are invariably delays in scheduling tests. Physicians also have to travel farther to provide inpatient care and perform procedures on their patients.

Cary Passik, MD. Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital (Suffern, N.Y.): I'm not convinced that hospital closures are a great threat to physicians because if they're flexible, they can usually relocate to a more profitable and successful hospital. It may cause a disruption in their lives, but as we have a shortage of physicians, they can usually find their cheese elsewhere.

Sonia Ramamoorthy, MD. Chief of Colon and Rectal Surgery at UC San Diego Health: Reduced access for patients particularly in vulnerable populations as many of the closures are mission-driven hospitals in smaller communities. 

Gregory Smith, MD. Associate Professor of Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago): In the face of hospital closures, hospital-based physicians are left to either join a hospital involved in consolidation within a larger healthcare system, or take the risk of engaging in relatively newer means of healthcare delivery, such as telemedicine. Such closures often drive physicians to reconsider the geography in which they practice, along with the community of patients with whom they interact, which can be destabilizing for all parties.

Kathleen Yaremchuk, MD. Otolaryngologist at Henry Ford Health (Detroit): The hospital closures are secondary to loss of physicians in the area to provide care to patients and utilize hospital services.

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