A Foundation for Your Future
Monday, Aug. 8, 3: 30-5 p.m.
Management services organizations. Clinics without walls. Physician-hospital organizations.
It's not always simple to choose a way to integrate physicians into healthcare networks.
Indeed, hospital administrators in InterHealth, a national alliance of providers sponsored by religious organizations, were clamoring for a tool that would make the decision easier.
So, in January, InterHealth launched a study to measure the success of integration strategies in different markets and organizations. The result will be a workbook hospitals can use to pick the most effective approach.
"Members have identified this as a real need," said Mark Brooks, InterHealth's director of knowledge services.
The study will be described at a session titled "Hospital-Physician Integration: A Foundation for Your Future."
Panelists will be Richard Valentine, a senior manager with Ernst & Young's Minneapolis office, and Leighton Smith, M.D., president of Lutheran General Medical Group, Park Ridge, Ill.
Ernst & Young and Lutheran General are both members of InterHealth, which includes hospitals, healthcare networks, medical groups, social service organizations and strategic business partners. Ernst & Young collected and analyzed data for the study.
Also on the panel is Joel Allison, senior executive vice president of Baylor Healthcare System in Dallas, who will give reaction based on his experiences with hospital-physician integration.
"There are lots of people with their biases, with their beliefs" about what works, Mr. Valentine said. "This is the first attempt to quantify it."
The study was developed for InterHealth members, but the workbook will be available this fall through the American Hospital Association's "Tools for Change," a set of membership services designed to help hospitals create integrated delivery systems and engage in other collaborative activities.
From 200 to 250 acute-care hospitals in 45 markets were targeted for study, and data was collected from public records and interviews. No cost estimate for the study is available because members donated their time, Mr. Brooks said.
A study team developed a three-dimensional matrix to plot market maturity, organizational readiness for change, and integration leadership for each institution. Each hospital's progress through the matrix was plotted, and its structure-MSO, PHO, clinic without walls, etc.-was noted. Success was measured by the return on assets.
At deadline, the study was expected to be completed by late July.
"I think it's a practical tool," said Rachel Witte, program director for "Tools for Change."
Mr. Valentine said he expects a big demand for the study results. If conclusive, he said, the research also could instruct administrators on how to succeed in managed care.
"It's a real hot topic," Mr. Valentine said. "Every major market in the country is trying to do something to affiliate physicians and hospitals, and I think there are a number of small communities that realize physicians and hospitals must get together."