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HFMA: Integration Takes Teamwork, Communication

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, June 29, 2011

The first step was getting physicians on board and having them brainstorm ways to cut costs. The progressive steps that took Carle Physician Group, Health Alliance Medical Plans, and the Carle Foundation from separate entities to a single group look like this:

1. Competition
2. Cooperation
3. Collaboration
4. Co-management
5. Co-ownership

"Our biggest problem was the 'Tower of Babel' of diagnosis," said Bruce Wellman, MD, CEO of Carle Physician Group. "Physicians all had to agree on the same terms. We needed to get them to use a common language."

Wellman explained how the group hired five or six nurse navigators to help streamline the process of care and identify a common language. As a result, the 30-day readmission rate dropped to under 10%.

It's known that a physician-led model performs significantly better than non-physician led models in cost-efficiency, Guest explained. However, she said, "most organizations have not put enough money into physician leadership training in order for them to become sustainable leaders."

In the current financial climate, as many groups may consider becoming an integrated delivery system (IDS), they have to understand the level of effort involved.

Integration does not happen just with a name change, but with a change of leadership, communication, and collaboration. From a marketer's perspective, it's important to keep tabs on the leadership structure to market opportunities for physician leaders to step up and help run an organization.


Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Anna Webster, Online Content Coordinator for HealthLeaders Media, can be reached at awebster@hcpro.com.
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