Physicians in Johnson County, Kan., a wealthy suburb of Kansas City, Mo., are forming a new network called Community Health Partners.
"We want to make it a payer-oriented, customer-friendly IPA of primary-care physicians only," said Elizabeth Gallup, M.D., executive director.
Some 45 physicians have made deposits to join, and another 40 have signed letters of intent. Such insurers as Prudential, Principal, Humana, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City have expressed interest in contracting, Gallup said.
The doctors are preparing to assume global- or partial-risk contracts in a cooperative where physicians are equal partners and not beholden to the hospitals where they practice.
"We call it a co-op because PO (physician organization) is overused, and PHO (physician-hospital organization) is a bad word to payers and physicians," Gallup said. Until recently, Gallup was in charge of establishing a PHO at Shawnee Mission (Kan.) Medical Center, where many of the physicians in the new co-op practice. "We set up a PHO, then we shelved it," she said. "It wasn't something we could sell. It wasn't something the market wanted."
The new physician co-op, by being doctor-driven rather than hospital-driven, will be better able to respond to payer needs for cost accountability and integrated delivery, Gallup said. "We're just creating the mechanism the market wants."