As physician practices and payer contracts become more sought-after by hospitals, one facility is trying to recruit physicians the old-fashioned way-with food.
Deaconess Health System in St. Louis recently footed the bill for 1,200 meals at one of the city's finest hotels, where former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., talked about the value of primary-care training. In the audience were 200 physicians and 700 medical students.
As MODERN HEALTHCARE reported, Deaconess has formed the St. Louis Medical Group with 110 physicians in practices it bought this year (April 18, p. 6). The group will pursue managed-care contracts with employers and insurers. Right now, it includes 73 primary-care physicians. That's just more than 10% of the 650 primary-care physicians who treat adults in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Deaconess operates two hospitals with 460 staffed beds. In St. Louis, its strategy stands out. Although rivals also are wooing physicians, they're merging and affiliating with other hospitals, too. Deaconess has narrowed in on physicians. It plans to recruit 150 to 200 primary-care physicians to the medical group-enough so that a physician would be within a 15-minute drive of any patient in the group's service area.
By September, the system will have run about 25 advertisements in business journals that outline its strategy to employers and payers. That campaign is priced at about $25,000. The bill for its bash isn't in yet, but it's likely to hit six figures, said Steven Stout, the system's vice president of corporate development. The hospital also donated $30,000 to the Koop Institute at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.
"We really looked at it as an investment rather than an expense," Mr. Stout said.