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HFMA: Integration Takes Teamwork, Communication

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, June 29, 2011

From mini putting greens to magic tricks, there were many gimmicks to catch the attention of healthcare executives' attention this week at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's HFMA 2011 ANI conference in Orlando.

But, diversions aside, what drew healthcare leaders to fill the seats was the opportunity to interact with peers and to share practical strategies for contending with the serious issues we're all facing: reimbursement cuts, changing models of care delivery, and the need for technology integration.

In his keynote address, Monday, HFMA Board Chair Gregory Adams emphasized that the "days of the suits versus the white coats are over." This was one of the major overlying messages at the conference. And it's message healthcare marketers should take to heart: There is a great need to put egos aside and work together to solve common issues such as what to do about accountable care, how to improve patient safety, and how to recruit and retain physicians.

So how does this new language and teamwork system begin? As marketers we need to better understand how the leadership systems within our organizations work, in order to communicate better with both providers and patients.

At the IL-based Carle Physician Group, a large multi-specialty practice, the goal was to improve care efficiency and reduce costs by becoming a physician-led integrated delivery system. To save $40M in margin losses as a result of Stark laws, and to benefit from shared services, Carle Clinic Associates, Health Alliance Medical Plans, and the Carle Foundation formed one legal entity in 2009. Consequently, a new leadership structure was defined.

"We wanted true integration, not just in name only," said Dorrie Guest of Deloitte Consulting. "It was time to take your silo hats off and figure out how you are going to work together."