Letter: Hospital alienates important group | AspenTimes.com
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Letter: Hospital alienates important group

About a year ago, a local physical therapist in a practice outside Aspen Valley Hospital told me the orthopedic group was negotiating to become hospital employees and that the hospital would try to exclude outside physical therapists from treating patients of AVH’s employed physicians. I was skeptical, so I met with a member of the AVH board to ask whether this was true. I was told it was not good practice for AVH to employ doctors directly, and that there was no truth to the accusation that AVH would try to freeze out PTs who weren’t employed there.

A year later, all that was denied has come to pass.

I point this out not to accuse anyone of misrepresentation. Conditions can change in a year. I point it out to highlight that AVH operates under increasing competitive pressure from other hospitals; such pressure can lead to perverse and short-sighted behavior by hospital management. The shabby treatment of Aspen’s independent PT community is, in my view, one example of perverse and short-sighted management behavior by AVH.

AVH has made a huge investment in new facilities. More investment is on the way. AVH needs patient revenues to support the investments. How best to get the patient revenues? By isolating the hospital from the rest of the health care community or by reaching out? That is a management question.

Patients rely heavily on their health care providers for referrals to other health care providers. The orthopedic doctors at AVH, whether in the old Orthopedics of Aspen group or the new AVH-employed group, refer patients to PT practitioners. That’s one reason the non-AVH PTs seek a friendly relationship with the AVH docs. But the AVH docs also receive referrals from PT practitioners. When a patient is receiving therapy from a non-AVH PT for knee pain and the PT says, “This will not get better without surgery,” the patient naturally asks the PT, “Where should I go for surgery?” The PT can recommend AVH, or the PT can recommend Valley View, St. Mary’s, Steadman, someone in Denver, or one of the other excellent providers of orthopedic surgeries. In other words, a lot of surgery work is steered by referral from PTs.

Being under increasing pressure to attract business to pay for its enormous recent investments, one would think AVH would be cultivating referral sources, not alienating them. I guess I don’t know anything about the hospital biz.

Maurice Emmer

Aspen


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