Accounting for Independent Physicians

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , June 13, 2011
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Cautious optimism

Rodney Ison, MD, was elected as the chairman of the ACO board. A family doctor with 28-physician, 10-location Community Health Care Inc., in Akron, he says the ACO developed out of what was originally a physician–hospital organization tasked with helping area physicians with their technology needs.

The ACO represented a more formal structure with clearly articulated goals about shared risk, savings, and patient care goals. But he was cautious at first, as were many of his colleagues who were involved in the discussions.

“We had been looking at the medical home model, but no one’s supporting that financially in our area,” he says.

With Summa’s financial backing, the ACO was a better alternative. “This takes collaboration to a whole new level, and was the right step for patients.”

That focus on the patient has helped with framing the collaboration around a “moral imperative” to do what’s best for the patient, which Ison says Hillman is fond of bringing up.

Since forming the ACO earlier this year, the groups and Summa have worked on bringing best practices to all from a variety of techniques each has implemented over the years to better treat high-risk patients. For example, Ison’s practice has implemented evening hours and sophisticated EMR data-mining techniques to monitor patients who have congestive heart failure or diabetes.

“We’ve been working on these for a long time at our organization, but with the ACO’s help we will broaden them,” he says. “My board actually is considering opening Sunday hours because it prevents readmissions.”

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