Service Lines Growing, But Aligning Physicians is Tough

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , March 22, 2012

The MemorialCare Health System in Fountain Valley, CA is among the hospital systems exploring various pathways of service lines, not only for the overall system, but for individual hospitals. As the hospital system explores population health and accountable care programs, they are "morphing into larger service lines," depending on the needs and demographics of the communities served, Steve Geidt, CEO of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hiills, CA. told me recently. He participated in an interview with other members of the MemorialCare system who agreed to address the findings in the intelligence report.


At Saddleback, for instance, hospital leaders are exploring more geriatric and palliative care service lines to address a "very high concentration of very old seniors who are frail," Geidt says. "Our emphasis has been on disease management and end-of-life care."

At the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, officials are looking into expanding pediatrics, wellness, neurosurgery, and neurology service lines, says Diana Hendel, PharmaD, CEO, of Long Beach Memoriial Medical Center, the Children's Hospital Long Beach and Community Hospital Long Beach.

"As we are transforming healthcare from a more traditional diagnosis and treatment program to include prevention and wellness, expanding those service lines isn't surprising," Hendel says.

Hospitals' push to expand service lines face obstacles in putting together physician teams to accomplish their goals, and in the transition from fee-for-service to value-based care.  The intelligence report shows that more than half—54%—of health leaders say it is difficult to attain physician alignment with organizational goals, and 8% say it is very difficult. Along those lines, 41% say it is difficult to develop physician compensation strategies.

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