Letter: Cost of independent health care editorial is misleading

March 25, 2016
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I wanted to respond to your recent editorial in the Grand Rapids Business Journal (“Independent physician alliances reduce costs, improve outcomes,” March 7, 2016).

I have copied several paragraphs from that editorial below, in which you state and reiterate that the data supports better quality and lower costs for independent providers, without citing the data. This is inaccurate.

I believe a review of the data actually shows that integrated systems of care have the highest quality and the lowest cost — Kaiser, and Geisinger in Pennsylvania, are much published examples of both of these.

Mercy Health in West Michigan compares favorably on cost to other systems of care in our region, so your article is misleading.

An independent provider organization has less ability to impact care across the continuum, including in the acute care (hospital) and post acute care (skilled nursing facility) setting, compared to a fully integrated system.

Your editorial identified marketing claims by Dr. Khan Nedd as factual statements, and thus it has the potential outcome of misinforming your readers who depend on you for accurate business intelligence related to the health care arena.

The statements in question include:

Nedd noted studies showing independent physicians have better patient outcomes and lower delivery costs for services, and Answer Health will further improve those outcomes.

“Independent physicians are able to provide better quality care at a lower cost and, because of the kinds of investments they have with their patients in terms of relationships and extended relationships, overall outcomes of patients have been better,” Nedd told the Business Journal.

“It’s also been fairly well established by a variety of metrics that when physicians who are owned by a hospital — when you evaluate the quality of care they provide or the costs — they generally are lower quality and higher cost.”

David Van Winkle, M.D.
Medical Director
Affinia Health Network

Editor’s note: Nedd cites the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University and the federal Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, as quoted in The New York Times; a report on healthleadersmedia.com sourcing Moody’s Investors Service; and various reports in The Wall Street Journal, Becker’s Hospital Review, healthcare-informatics.com and healthaffairs.org.

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