hen a hospital chooses to invest in an ASC Joint Venture (JV), this choice is often driven by a desire to align the interests of the community’s best independent specialists with its hospital system. As such, maintaining this alignment is key to the ultimate success of the ASC JV. Regent’s proprietary ownership models are designed to provide doctors and hospital administrators the tools they need to ensure the long-term clinical and financial success of their JV facility and to align interests across all physicians. However, inevitable changes within the hospital, the center and the industry will impact physician alignment. Building solid communication channels for physicians is imperative at the on-set of the JV, as are efforts to sustain these channels after the paperwork is signed. Here are a few strategies we suggest to maintain strong alignment amidst an ever-changing healthcare environment.
- Remain Present at the Center:
Hospital C-Suite Participation on the Center’s Board: Board meetings are an opportunity to participate in real-time communication with physicians and to identify issues before they become problems. For most hospital administrators and physicians, these meetings are the first time they have sat down together as peers to work towards a common goal. Additionally, executive level involvement in center operations sends a clear signal of the level of importance the health system places on these specialists. Find Ways to Interact with Non-Board Partners: Meeting with physicians in a clinical setting is much easier at the center than at the hospital. At the hospital surgeons are often scheduled with back-to-back procedures and paperwork, leaving little time for outside conversation. However, at the center the physician is often in the waiting room chatting with patients or in the recovery room checking on them, allowing for more opportunities to interact one on one.
- Engage Physicians in Hospital Decisions that Affect the Center: The implementation of an EMR system has been a major decision hospital systems have made over the past few years. 2013 will see a lot of hospitals updating their IT infrastructure and developing ACO strategies. Surgery centers – and physicians – will be affected by all these decisions. When appropriate, ask physicians to sit on decision-making committees and educate them on decisions that are made at the administrative level. Let them know that the goal is to create common platforms for effective information sharing and coordinated care delivery between the center and the hospital system.
- Communicate Through the Continuum of Care: One desired outcome of a JV partnership is an increase of new inpatient cases to the hospital. It is a smart policy to communicate with the physicians regarding new efficiencies to improve utilization as well as new policies on post-op pain management, new technology, or improvements to on-time starts. Additionally, if a hospital system owns primary care practices or physical therapy centers, surgery center partners would appreciate those partners knowing about changes such as new specialists at the center, new procedures being performed, and new technologies being implemented.
The healthcare industry has seen more than its share of change over the last few years, and there’s no indication that this cycle will slow. Accountable Care Organizations are the next great challenge for health systems. They will need to create delivery networks that allow like-minded providers to develop and implement best practices. Healthy debates are ahead on Shared Savings distribution methodology among PCPs, Specialists, and Hospitals. This comes at a time when CMS reimbursement changes are necessitating the move of more cases to the ASC setting, further demonstrating the necessity for strong physician alignment through ongoing, meaningful communication.