Partnering for PatientsIf you are like many patients, your physician is now working for a hospital. Patients across the country are seeing their doctors’ offices suddenly change hands. This can be unsettling, especially for those patients with chronic conditions who have had a trusting relationship with their doctor for many years. Why is this happening?
Nationwide, hospital systems are acquiring physician groups as they prepare for a system that reimburses based on quality of care, outcomes and cost control rather than the traditional fee-for-service system. The hope is that stronger physician alignment will leave healthcare systems better positioned to meet the demands to reduce waste and reward value instead of volume.
By integrating physician practices and sharing one patient medical record, a health system can begin analyzing their patient database to determine which patients would most benefit from preventive care and interventions that could reduce admissions, readmissions, and emergency department (ED) visits. Many systems have started employing care management coordinators to work with high-risk patients in physician offices, facilitate post-acute care transitions, and extend patient access to care. The overall goal is that by emphasizing care coordination, prevention and chronic disease management through physician practice integration, we can improve quality and reduce cost.
So how does this benefit the patient?
In many cases information technology is upgraded and records are converted to electronic health records that better integrate with the hospital medical record. Additional staff may be hired and buildings/offices are often updated, but the most noticeable benefit to patients is a more streamlined experience.
When a private practice becomes part of a larger group, it is often easier to have much of the administrative work done on the back end – accessing records from anywhere in the group, providing fast or even immediate referrals and having the staff across the system completely informed of the patient’s status. Patients will have less waiting time and less burden for providing paperwork in these instances due to the efficiency of these systems. Also, the patient may get more one-on-one time with the doctor, resulting in better overall care. Care coordination for the patients is also often more efficient which can lead to avoiding unnecessary costs due to unnecessary procedures.