As the debate on provider-sponsored networks continues in Congress, the research arm of the American Hospital Association is beginning a study on the effectiveness of physician-hospital organizations and provider networks.The Hospital Research and Educational Trust has received a $233,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study whether PHOs have accomplished their objectives and to assess the f inancial risks of network formation for managed-care contracting.The HRET plans to address issues of governance, capital acquisition, information sharing and quality control.Over the past three years, hundreds of PHOs have been for med as vehicles for collaboration between physicians and hospitals. The PHOs primarily are established to conduct managed-care contracting with employers, insurers and third-party payers."We see a lot of frenetic activity, but rea l change takes time," said Gloria Bazzoli, HRET's vice president for research. "Many of these arrangements will fall apart when the going gets tough."Bazzoli, who will lead the HRET research team, said the study is expected to b e completed by the end of 1997.A second study will seek to determine how provider-sponsored networks assess, assume and manage financial risk, Bazzoli said. "Not enough is known about the financial risks that provider networks tak e on when they enter into such contracts," she said.Bazzoli said PSNs in Portland, Ore., San Diego and St. Louis, will be examined in this study, which is expected to be completed later this year.Congress is considering requiring PSNs to meet the same solvency standards as HMOs. It is also looking at whether PSNs should be regulated at the state or federal level. Several states, including Georgia, have taken the position that PSNs must meet the same financi al reserve requirements as HMOs.
THE WEEK IN HEALTHCARE;EFFECTIVENESS OF PROVIDER NETWORKS, PHOS UNDER STUDY
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