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2 Pitfalls of Physician-Hospital Alignment

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, April 16, 2012

With opportunities for healthcare mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships sprouting like so many April tulips, creating solid pacts that incentivize physician-hospital alignment is essential. However, it can be tricky to craft these agreements to achieve your strategic and clinical goals, while staying on the right side of the law, so tread carefully.

Two experts experienced in the ins and outs of physician-hospital agreements offer their insights on complexities to keep in mind. David Ping, senior vice president of strategic planning and business development at Health Quest, a three-hospital system in Lagrangeville, NY, and Kirk B. Jensen, MD, MBA, FACEP, who is CMO for physician staffing firm BestPractices, Inc., and vice president of physician services firm EmCare, Inc., say there are two big snares to avoid.

Pitfall #1: The gap between where your organization is today and where it's headed. Healthcare still has one foot planted in fee-for-service and another in fee-for-value, so how can you balance these in an alignment agreement? It's not easy, but let your strategy be your guide, suggests Ping.

Health Quest seeks to boost quality metrics. "We see the benefit as really getting the doctors involved now in the development of [quality] metrics [to track]. Ultimately that's really going to be better for the patient and better for our quality," he says. "But [focusing on quality] is really better for us on the value side rather than on the reimbursement one."

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