Intelligence Report: Physician Alignment

Jonathan Bees, September 1, 2016

Healthcare leaders face the alignment challenge of more closely integrating physicians across the continuum.

Healthcare leaders face the alignment challenge of more closely integrating physicians across the continuum.

This article first appeared in the September 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Healthcare providers are being challenged to balance the requirements of today's fee-for-service model with a plethora of current and developing risk-based payment models, managing their organizations as best they can as they navigate a changing industry landscape. One of the keys for succeeding in this environment is developing a physician alignment strategy that is rigorous enough to meet today's needs, and flexible enough to adjust to industry developments as they arise. Respondents to our 2016 HealthLeaders Media Physician-Hospital Alignment Survey indicate they are using a variety of alignment mechanisms, including clinical integration, employment contracts with incentives, ACOs and risk-sharing agreements, and others. No one alignment technique dominates.

A common thread in many of the alignment strategies is a recognition of the growing need for collaboration across the continuum—organizations that are fully integrated and aligned will likely reap the rewards under value-based models, and those who falter will face an uncertain fate.

Physician alignment business objectives
Perhaps not surprisingly, respondents say that maximizing financial performance (67%) is the top business objective behind their organizations' physician alignment strategy. Note that the response for maximizing financial performance is inversely correlated with organizational size: based on net patient revenue, a greater share of small organizations (72%) than medium (64%) and large organizations (56%) mention this. Establishing primary care as a continuum foundation (53%) and standardizing care for predictable costs (52%) round out the top three business objectives as physician alignment strategies.

Jonathan Bees

Jonathan Bees is the senior research analyst at HealthLeaders Media.

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