Many hospitals and health systems started employing physicians under the premise that if they could run a successful hospital, how hard could it be to run a few practices? What most didn’t anticipate, however, was the growth in physician employment. A few doctors is one thing, a few hundred is another.
Many physician networks have outgrown the capabilities of the director-level manager the hospital CEO assigned to oversee the practices. They’ve outgrown the hospital billing system’s “physician practice module” and the “hospital billers” tasked to handle physician billing. They’ve outgrown the EMR that was supposed to be able to handle a growing network and every specialty imaginable. They’ve outgrown the capacity of the hospital’s HR, accounting, and materials management departments. And finally, they’ve outgrown the lack of a formal organizational structure, with no clear lines of communication or network chain of command.
While having dedicated resources and investing in network infrastructure may not have seemed like a worthwhile investment a decade ago, today it’s one of HSG’s eight keys to developing a High-Performing Physician Network. To diagnose the health of a network’s infrastructure, Healthcare Strategy Group asks these seven questions:
- Does your information technology infrastructure provide your clinicians the clinical data they require to deliver high quality care?
- Does your information technology infrastructure provide your network management team the financial reports and data it requires to effectively and efficiently manage the practices?
- Do you have distinct functions and dedicated resources that support the day-to-day operations of the group (i.e., Operations Management, HR, Accounting/Finance, IT, Revenue Cycle, Purchasing/Materials Management)?
- Does the practice executive have the skills and capabilities to implement your vision for the network?
- Do you have the right organizational structure to effectively manage practices?
- Are you in the optimal legal structure to maximize revenue and operating efficiencies?
- Do management capabilities and skill sets reflect the size of the group?
After completing a physician network’s history and physical (H&P), which includes answering these questions and a limited data review, HSG can give an infrastructure a “clean bill of health” or pinpoint the specific maladies that are barriers to a network ever achieving “High-Performing Physician Network” status.