The vision of Edward Murphy, M.D., to remake the hospital-based Carilion Health System into the physician-based Carilion Clinic certainly has shaken up the healthcare market in and around Roanoke, Va.
Before Murphy unveiled his plans a year ago, that market could be described as politely competitive. Hospitals competed with hospitals and physicians competed with physicians, but the competition rarely crossed certain lines of decorum, at least publicly. Carilions conversion plans changed all that in just 12 short months. The gloves are off, and healthcare competition in the Roanoke market more closely resembles a World Wrestling Entertainment match than Derby Day in Louisville, Ky.
As reporter Melanie Evans reveals in this issues top story, Carilion is aggressively recruiting physicians in dozens of medical specialties to both expand their clinic model and to replace the dozens of physicians whove left the system, choosing to remain independent contractors rather than becoming employed doctors. According to Evans report, Carilion is recruiting new docs at twice its historic annual pace.
In this issues guest commentary, we hear from Lawrence Monahan, M.D., a vocal critic of Carilions conversion plans, on why dozens of physicians have switched their practices to other hospitals, relocated their practices outside of the market or retired early rather than work for the new Carilion Clinic and Murphy. Monahan argues that Murphys motive is money, not improving patient care.
From our perspective, wide-open competition sparked by the Carilion conversion is the best thing that could ever happen to the market because its the best thing that could ever happen to patients. The market is being flooded by new and outside medical talent that cant help but raise the level of medical care in the region and give patients a greater choice of physicians.
Patients also will have their choice of practice models from which to receive their care. They can choose the private practice model and continue to see doctors whove defected from the Carilion system and operate independently. Or, they can pick the clinic practice model, which may be less personal but may deliver more seamless care as they pass from primary care to specialist to inpatient care.
Employers and insurers also will benefit from the increased competition. That competition should offer payers increased choice of providers at better prices for the same or better care.
Yeah, its getting a little ugly in Roanoke. But its beautiful.
David Burda is the editor of Modern Physician, based in Chicago. Contact Burda at [email protected].