HealthTrust, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based GPO owned by HCA, is bringing together specialist physicians from throughout its membership to better inform its contracting decisions.
Like other GPOs, HealthTrust's contracting team has always convened a number of boards composed of practicing physicians or nurses to review products under consideration to contract. But they were lacking specialists who could offer in-depth, practical expertise on new products, said Dr. Michael Schlosser, the company's chief medical officer.
The Physician Advisors program created a structured process for soliciting the help of specialty physicians, Schlosser said. Previously, advisory board members had to seek advice on products, which meant questions were variable, the feedback was unstructured, and the system for incorporating that feedback into the contracting process was undefined, he said.
Schlosser adds that the new system creates an 'accountability trail."
"Ultimately, we wanted to be able to answer the common question 'Which physicians looked at this contract decision?' in a structured and reproducible way,” he said.
Physicians currently in the program span 19 subspecialties and come from over 14 health systems of varying sizes. They are compensated at fair market value for their advice. HealthTrust is adding more physicians and more specialties as more products are proposed, said Jarad Garshnick, HealthTrust's director of physician services.
Schlosser said new cardiac stents recently have been under frequent consideration. When a new stent platform launched in the fall and gained significant member interest, HealthTrust brought in a team of 17 interventional cardiologists.
Dr. Lynn Simon, president of clinical services and chief quality officer at Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, a HealthTrust member, said CHS leaders have appreciated the variety of perspectives in evaluating potential products. About 15 CHS physicians are advisers in the program.
“We do have some diversity within our organization,” Simon said. “The opportunity to engage physicians from a variety of organizations—academic, small hospitals, big facilities, rural, urban, for-profit, not-for-profit—and have that input … is extraordinarily helpful when I bring it back for consideration.”
HealthTrust has over 1,400 member hospitals and handles over $25 billion in purchasing volume. The GPO is one of the strictest in the industry when it comes to compliance—members are required to use HealthTrust contracts for 80% of their supply spend for most types of products. The GPO believes this drives better prices.
Experts have suggested that committed membership models at provider-led GPOs such as HealthTrust and Intalere, the GPO owned by Intermountain Healthcare and formerly known as Amerinet, could become more prominent following major consolidation in the GPO industry.