AMA Offers Guidance on Physician Employment

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , November 14, 2012

The principles address six potentially problematic areas of employer-employee relationships, including:

  1. Conflicts of interest
  2. Advocacy
  3. Contracting
  4. Hospital-medical staff relations
  5. Peer review and performance evaluations
  6. Payment agreements

"It's important that the patient-physician relationship is protected and the patient comes first in terms of what we are doing for them," Lazarus said. "We want to make sure in the employment relationship that there is unfettered communication and that we make sure we do what is best for patients."

Essentially, the AMA Principles for Physician Employment provide a framework to help "guide physicians and their employers as they collaborate to provide safe, high-quality and cost-effective patient care," AMA board member Joseph P. Annis, MD said in a statement.

Physician employment trends are expected to continue, with more doctors entering into employment and other contractual relationships with hospitals, group practices, and other health systems. Nearly one-third of final year residents list hospital employment as their first choice of practice setting, according to physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins.

"We are moving into an area where more physicians are employed and we are guiding physicians for that employment," Lazarus added. "And that fits very well with our strategic plan. We spent a lot of time educating our members about the plan."

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