Summit Health Management has formed new partnerships with physician groups in Oregon and Arizona that will help the organization build a national presence, the physician management service firm announced Thursday.
New Jersey-based Summit Health signed a letter of intent to provide administrative, clinical and financial management services to Bend Memorial Clinic, which has 120 providers in Oregon. It also signed an agreement to join 51 providers in the Phoenix area, currently affiliated as Arizona Primary Care Physicians, to form Summit Medical Group Arizona.
Summit Health Management is the administrative arm of Summit Health Group, which prides itself on being independent, physician run and physician led in an increasingly consolidated sector.
A company spokesperson said that scaling up allows practices to lower costs through streamlined management services and operations. The company aims to provide the resources for physician groups to remain independent and physician driven.
Ultimately, it was a similar culture and vision that made the deal work, said Dr. Jeffrey Le Benger, CEO of Summit Health.
"This opportunity will help us create a national platform that will hopefully create a physician-owned, physician-run company that will be able to pursue a shared vision to change the dynamic of healthcare by delivering a higher quality product at a lower cost, with better patient satisfaction and good engagement," Le Benger said.
Bend Memorial Clinic will gain access to Summit Health's proprietary patient care and practice management model that will help them align operations, Summit Health said.
"This is an important milestone in the long and distinguished history of BMC that will ensure the strength and vitality of our physician-owned and governed medical group," Dr. David Holloway, CEO of Bend Memorial, said in a statement.
Summit Medical Group Arizona will offer an expanded variety of physician specialists and new services to provide "one-stop shops" for patients, the organization said. The Summit Medical Group Arizona will include Thunderbird Internal Medicine, Paseo Primary Care Physicians, Daniel L. Kessler MD, Fountains Family Care, Family First Physicians, Estrella Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and Holland Center for Family Health.
"This partnership with Summit Health Management will provide us with the essential tools, capabilities and resources to navigate the challenging healthcare environment and successfully grow a physician-led and governed group, broadening our ancillary and specialist capability offerings," Dr. Brian Riveland, CEO of Thunderbird and the chief physician executive of Summit Medical Group, said in a statement.
When Summit Health recognized that the organizations were capital constrained and had management issues, it took the opportunity to help them survive and grow, Le Benger said.
The number of independent physicians has been dwindling. Maintaining the necessary information technology and quality and safety compliance can be expensive and often requires a larger asset base to spread costs. Bend Memorial in 2015 implemented Epic's EHR. The clinic reported losses the next year.
Payment reforms value an integrated care model and can often overburden smaller practices, which is why independent physicians gave way to larger systems, healthcare experts say.
In today's healthcare environment, independent physician groups are uniquely suited to succeed, Le Benger said. They can satisfy population health initiatives, reductions in medical waste and other measures emphasized in value-based care models because of their patient-centered approach and outpatient sector expertise, he said.
"Hopefully we can work together to change healthcare with our mission of building relationships with communities through transparency, trust, honesty and being fair," Le Benger said.