The appointment of a not-for-profit hospital executive to the board of a for-profit hospital-physician alignment services company isn't a conflict of interest, says the company's chief executive. In fact, he adds, it's part of a business arrangement that could serve as a model for others.
The company is Irving, Texas-based MedSynergies, and it recently appointed Britt Berrett, president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, to its board. Berrett is also executive vice president of the 658-bed hospital's parent company, Texas Health Resources, which is also a MedSynergies customer and an investor as well as a partner in a joint venture called Texas Health MedSynergies.
“Someone might see a conflict, but the reality is that there really isn't one,” said MedSynergies President and CEO J.R. Thomas, who added that Texas Health recently became a minority investor in MedSynergies with a “less than 20%” stake and Berrett's appointment is part of the deal.
“They invested in MedSynergies and, as part of that, Britt Berrett came on our board to oversee that investment,” Thomas said.
He said that having a hospital executive on a physician-hospital alignment services company's board won't tip the company's loyalty too far to the hospital side in any business operation.
“It's much greater than the Dallas-Fort Worth market,” Thomas said of the traditional “dynamic tension” that exists between doctors and hospitals.
“We're physician-focused,” he said. “But we had to bring in hospital people so we can have a good argument and wrestle through these issues.”
MedSynergies has more than 7,400 providers in 55 specialties in 15 states. In January, it purchased PhyServe, the management services organization that supported the Medical Edge Healthcare Group, a few days after the medical group was acquired by Texas Health Resources in December.
“This is a sequential story,” Thomas said.
Berrett, who was named a Modern Healthcare Up & Comer young executive in 1998, is a former Northeast Texas regent for the American College of Healthcare Executives. Thomas said Berrett's recognized leadership in the hospital community will be important as healthcare reform evolves over the next two years.
“We'll build the cake over the next 24 months,” Thomas said, adding that when this process is completed, “icing issues” such as bundled payments and other business models can be settled.