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August, 2013

Hospital Newspaper - NY

Ask An Expert Christopher J. O’Connor Executive Vice President, GNYHA Ventures, Inc., President, GNYHA Services, Inc. and President, Nexera, Inc.

The New Normal: Giving Hospital-Physician Alignment Priority Both the present and the future of healthcare are about care coordination. Given the current environment—its regulatory and financial mandates, patient needs, and technological advancements—hospitals, health systems, and physicians are collaborating more than ever before to help increase care value while improving delivery systems. But whether through physician-hospital organizations (PHOs), accountable care organizations (ACOs), or other arrangements, hospital-physician alignment is a multifaceted cooperative relationship that requires continuous nurturing with clear, strategic practices and goals. Nearly 70 percent of physicians in a 2013 survey expect increased hospital-physician integration in the next one to three years. And they should. There is a substantial incentive to focus on the hospital-physician relationship. In a healthcare delivery system that rewards data sharing as well as cost and quality improvements, physician buy-in is key. Because of their central role in treatment decisions, and their power to decide when to admit and discharge patients, trying to significantly improve quality and outcomes while lowering hospital costs without physician participation may be impossible. Accordingly, hospitals must strengthen physician partnerships. This can entail the challenge of overcoming long-standing competing interests in order to develop an alignment strategy that best fits the organizational culture. The characteristics of a healthy hospital-physician relationship include 1. support for and commitment to change, from senior management down; 2. physician stakeholders actively engaged in hospital governance; 3. adequate staffing, technology, and practices that facilitate alignment; 4. pay models, including incentive compensation programs, developed by the hospital and physicians; 5. established procedures and policies to deal with conflict. While grounded in mutual leadership, resources, and patient-centered goals, hospital-physician alignment should also be mutually beneficial. It should deliver tangible opportunities to lower costs while improving efficiencies. One example is the GNYHA Services Alternate Care Purchasing Platform, which allows physicians affiliated with hospitals and health systems (like those owned, leased, or managed by hospitals or in PHO relationships) to purchase medical and non-medical products at prices typically available only to acute care health systems. Interdependency and teamwork are markers of today’s healthcare environment. Undeniable forces, such as ACOs, bundled payments, health IT requirements, lower reimbursement rates, and quality-based payments, are engendering close hospital-physician collaboration. However, these partnerships are not one-size-fits-all nor can they be forced. Providers must proactively determine their own strategy, based on their needs, their resources, alignment gaps, and the organizational climate. A comprehensive collaborative assessment, start-up plan, and implementation can result in alignment programs that are effective as well as tailored—ones that balance differences, goals, and operational/management capabilities, and provide incentives for continued success. Christopher J. O’Connor is Executive Vice President of GNYHA Ventures, Inc., the for-profit arm of the Greater New York Hospital Association, and President of two GNYHA Ventures companies: GNYHA Services, Inc., an acute care group purchasing organization, and Nexera, Inc., a healthcare consulting firm. Mr. O’Connor is Chair-Elect of the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM).

Hospital Newspaper New York August edition  

Hospitals will find this the place to recognize employees, tell their stories of patient care, market their new technology and promote upcom...

Hospital Newspaper New York August edition  

Hospitals will find this the place to recognize employees, tell their stories of patient care, market their new technology and promote upcom...