Can large multispecialty group practices and local hospitals really work together?
An MGMA session with that title will be presented at 11: 15 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20. The speakers trying to answer that fundamental question are Kate Berry, vice president of Washington-based healthcare management and consulting firm McManis Associates, and William Sullivan, administrator and chief executive officer of Quincy (Ill.) Medical Group.
The saga of Quincy Medical Group and Quincy-based Blessing Hospital is not quite a success story but not quite a failure.
For the past year and a half, the two organizations have discussed creating a joint operating company to build and run programs such as an ambulatory surgery center, cancer center, heart program and women's center. Both organizations would be equal owners in the joint company.
Within the past few months, the partners called off their engagement and settled on joint custody of the offspring.
"Now, rather than talking about an all-inclusive joint operating company, the talks will continue on a project by project basis," Sullivan says.
The pair's first joint project is the development of cardiac programs and services.
Throughout the talks, the two groups were able to learn about each other. The hospital and the medical group found common ground in cost savings and services expansion, Berry says. They also learned that hospitals and physicians have cultural and philosophical differences, she adds. For example, hospitals plan for the long term, while physicians look at short-term goals, she says.
The two groups could not overcome the challenges of sharing control and money, Berry and Sullivan say.
While the medical group, which represents 80% to 90% of the physicians in the community, expected to exclude other physicians from ownership in the joint venture, the hospital did not want to do that, Berry says.
Sullivan and Berry stand behind the vision that multispecialty group practices and hospitals should work together. They say they believe they will eventually pick up talks about the joint company.
"It makes so much sense in the community, and much of the leadership is committed to the partnership," Berry says. "I believe that the community benefit of the two coming together will prevail."
But can the two groups work together?
To do so, both sides must be willing to change their strategies and continue to invest more time in reviewing each other's incentives, Sullivan says.