Physician Integration Failures Are Avoidable

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , July 12, 2013

But Corso is leader of a new business offshoot that seeks a very different customer: hospitals and health systems that want to integrate previously independent physicians and their practices into the whole.  

Rapid consolidation is partly the result of incentives for organizations to better coordinate care—the idea being that it's better to own all the pieces. This is a way to maintain control over processes that are known to keep patients out of high-cost areas of care, and to manage the health of populations versus the previous best business practice of maximizing procedures.

That's a gross oversimplification of the integration challenges hospital and health system leaders face, but regardless of the reasons for acquiring practices, the road to achieving the efficiencies they can provide is fraught with landmines.

"It would be one thing if you could just begin with a clean sheet and competition could be quiet, and you'd present a great value proposition, but I have not seen a place like that," says Corso.

Instead, most acquired practices are facility-specific—that is, they refer and do their work at one facility.

"The reality of what systems are challenged with is changing an array of different practices into a true physician enterprise that shares unity of purpose."

If you can achieve that, Corso says, you'll reap the benefit of less drama; the enterprise will be less costly to run; and you can more effectively comply with best practices and gain efficiencies, thus lowering costs.

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