It's a jungle out there: Understanding physician payment and its role in group dynamics

Rachel Gifford*, Eric Molleman, Taco van der Vaart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Although collaboration between healthcare professionals is essential for the delivery of effective, efficient, and high-quality care, it remains an ongoing and critical challenge across health systems. As a result, many countries are experimenting with innovative payment and employment models. The literature tends to focus on improving collaboration across organizational and sectoral boundaries, and largely ignores potential barriers to collaborative work between members of the same profession within a single organization. Despite intergroup dynamics and professional boundaries having been shown to restrict patient flow and collaboration between specialties, studies have so far tended to overlook the potential effects of differentiated organizational and payment models on physicians' behaviors and intergroup dynamics. In the present study, we seek to unpack the influence of physicians' payment and employment models on their collaborative behaviors and on intergroup dynamics between specialties, adding to the current scholarship on physician payment and employment by considering how physicians’ view and act in response to different structural arrangements. The findings suggest that adopting hybrid models, in which physicians are employed or paid differently within the same organization or practice, creates a bifurcation of the profession whereby physicians across different models are perceived to behave differently and have conflicting professional values. These models are perceived to inhibit collaboration between physicians and complicate hospital governance, restricting the ability to move towards new models of care delivery. These findings can be used as a basis for future work that aims to unpack the reality of physician payment and offer important insights for policies surrounding physician employment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116945
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2024


  • Hospitals
  • Physician payment
  • Professional collaboration
  • Qualitative methods


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