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CHI creates national physician services organization

By BETSY TAYLOR

Catholic Health Initiatives has created a new organization to provide management services to employed doctors and their practices. The new for-profit organization, called Catholic Health Initiatives Physician Services, will centralize key business functions and implement best operational practices for the physician offices, CHI executives said.

Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives Physician Services will provide doctors and their practice groups with revenue cycle management, to help improve the practices' work flow and to make billing and collection more efficient. The organization also will provide patient scheduling and referral support, including the use of Internet-based tools that allow patients to schedule many of their own appointments. The scheduling and referral services are intended to allow patients to better transition from one care setting to another within a physician network. Catholic Health Initiatives Physician Services also will provide physician practices with analytics and management information, so that the practices will be able to review data on their patient volume, patient mix and the economics of their practices. This data should help them refine their operations, said leadership involved with the new organization.

As part of CHI's overall strategy, the organization, through CHI's direct investment group, committed $65 million to purchase a significant minority stake in Irving, Texas-based MedSynergies and gained two seats of MedSynergies board representation, CHI leaders said. MedSynergies will use the investment to fund future growth and accelerate its partnership with Catholic Health Initiatives Physician Services, explained CHI spokesperson Michael Romano.

MedSynergies is a minority investor in Catholic Health Initiatives Physician Services, said MedSynergies Chief Executive J.R. Thomas. For more than 16 years, MedSynergies has been working with health systems and physicians to align their operations, increase their market share and improve their financial results, according to information from the company. CHI and MedSynergies did not publicly disclose the amount of capital each contributed to start the physician services subsidiary.

MedSynergies handles more than $1 billion in billing and collections for its more than 8,000 providers nationwide, and Catholic Health Initiatives Physician Services will provide those services to CHI's employed physician practices, all of which will transition to using the management services.

Executives with both CHI and MedSynergies said it is too early to say what the creation of Catholic Health Initiatives Physician Services might mean for jobs, and where positions might be added, eliminated or relocated.

The creation of Catholic Health Initiatives Physician Services fits in with broader CHI efforts, explained Romano. "CHI, in an effort to expand, improve and sustain its health care ministry, is focused on a new path that includes clinical integration, population health management and new care and financial models that will help create a new era of healthy communities," he said. "To meet the challenges of a rapidly changing environment under health reform, CHI has created alliances with organizations with expertise in areas such as revenue cycle and information-technology services, as well as entering into new payment models and insurance programs that promote value over volume."

Dr. T. Clifford Deveny, CHI's senior vice president of physician services and clinical integration, said the system believes the new organization will allow health care providers "to concentrate on what matters most to them: quality care for their patients." He said CHI anticipates the new organization will help drive a $100 million improvement over three years due to reduced expenses, cost avoidance and revenue increase.

CHI and MedSynergies announced the new organization in July. CHI will transition its existing physician practices to work with the new organization over two and a half years. It also will market Catholic Health Initiatives Physician Services to additional health care providers seeking management services, even if they do not have previous ties to CHI, Deveny said.

MedSynergies' Thomas said employed physicians and their practices will have a client management person who is a single point of service for all their initiatives. He said the client managers will have a local presence and likely will meet monthly with physicians. He said in the first six to nine months of working with a practice, the managers will focus on improving the foundations of the business' operations.

CHI has annual operating revenues of more than $12 billion and more than 85,000 employees. It operates in 18 states and includes 86 hospitals among its facilities, has about 2,000 employed physicians and another 900 employed practice care providers including optometrists, advance practice nurses, midwives and physician assistants. Deveny said employed physician practices within CHI are on track for 7.5 million patient visits systemwide for this fiscal year, about a 25 percent increase in patient transactions from the previous fiscal year.

 

Copyright © 2013 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
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