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Physician Integration Failures Are Avoidable

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, July 12, 2013

Integrating physicians under one management umbrella can be a huge challenge. It's not the acquiring that's hard. It's the integrating. Lack of a cohesive practice strategy is often the culprit.

As hospitals and health systems seek to broaden their offerings and the cohesiveness of their care pathways, acquiring and employing physicians and physician practices has accelerated. The strategy is in part a reflection of the incentives being placed on healthcare to develop a cohesive continuum of care, and in part a reflection of physicians and practices being squeezed for revenue and desiring employment.

Regardless, integrating physicians under one management umbrella can be a huge challenge. It's not the acquiring that's hard. It's the integrating.

Or so says Steve Corso, managing director of physician engagement at Medsynergies. But why is there so much challenge in engaging them? Part of it stems from the reasons a practice might be acquired.

"All parties are smart people, so everyone's working hard and has the smarts, but one of the key factors is that what's causing physician enterprises to grow is so dynamic," he says. "A lot of times you have an acquisition that's simply filling a hole. An acquisition like that is completely different in its expectation than an enterprise that's growing to cover a population. And those are just two variations. There are hundreds."

Corso says that chaos can result from a basic disconnect between the expectations of the system and that of the physicians they are acquiring. 

Medsynergies is perhaps best-known for taking away practice headaches from hospitals and health systems by managing and providing them directly. For instance, it will staff and be accountable to service and revenue goals to a hospital or health systems, effectively removing them from the pain of managing a hospitalist, anesthesia, or emergency physician group. Outsourcing, in other words. 

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