The Physician Alignment Partnership

The Physician Alignment Partnership

January 2014

Hospital-Physician Partnership is the Key to Achieving Your Goals

More and more frequently, hospital leaders are forming partnerships with physicians, bringing them into their system to lower costs and improve quality of care. But unlike similar experiments in the 1990s, there are new ways of looking at the issue and new ways of creating a relationship founded upon collaboration, communication and guidance that brings about greater productivity and greater cost-savings. In today's landscape, unity of purpose and cooperation is truly more.     

The Value of Hospital-Physician Partnership

Physician Alignment creates a strategic partnership, anchored by sound methodology, while promoting a culture of accountability on all levels. Increasingly, hospital leadership is realizing this type of partnership is necessary to meet cost and quality goals, especially when faced with managing risk on a population of patients.

While administrators are drawn to an alignment model to lower costs and improve accountability, physicians are looking to alignment as a means of improving quality of care, strengthening finances and increasing patient satisfaction. Collaboration benefits both parties.

Physician employment, professional services agreements and co-management agreements are already a reality, but simply hiring physicians or contracting more closely with them will not bring about the changes necessary to move forward. Physician Alignment is more than just employment. It's a way to transition physicians from arms-length contractor to partner.

Creating partnerships means doctors believe that actively helping the hospital reach its goals will increase the opportunity for their own future to be successful in turn. When hospital leaders see this from their respective perspectives, they become motivated to share influence over decision-making with physicians, giving alignment room to breathe.

Quality Metrics and Compensation

While financial pressures are driving physicians to employment, the rewards of focusing on quality measures are reconfirming that decision. Under an aligned system, tracking quality metrics is easier and distributing incentives becomes more accurate. Developing quality goals and consensus on the steps necessary to reach them is less of a struggle. With hospitals moving from volume to value, physician compensation can become more incentive-based in order to maintain the hospital-physician partnership.

Finding a rewarding compensation model is important in building strong physician relationships. Many hospitals are now compensating employed physicians for nonproductivity performance such as patient satisfaction, clinical quality, and citizenship.

Achieving a Successful Partnership

Physician Alignment initiates many critical conversations between doctors and hospital leadership about how to achieve a true partnership and function as a team. A new mindset seeks to clarify where unity of purpose exists. It’s only through an effective process of collaboration, communication, and governance that physicians feel a personal connectedness to an employer. This may result in the ability to look beyond their specific practice site, feeling a confident tie to the big picture. Health systems that embrace partnership and agree on what that means for both parties will stand above the rest. But more importantly, their patients win.