Mayo, Cleveland Clinic launch practice affiliations

Careful not to call them mergers or acquisitions, Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic separately are launching campaigns to affiliate with physician practices, American Medical News reports.

Although open to all groups, the leading health systems specifically are seeking medium- to large-sized single specialty practices, according to the article. Those practice groups will pay subscription fees to use the resources and brand names of Mayo and Cleveland Clinic.

It's not clear yet if the recent and upcoming partnerships with physician practices are part of a larger accountable care organization (ACO) strategy.

"This is not being thought of as definitely part of an ACO, but it might in the future lend itself to that," said Dr. David L. Hayes, a cardiologist and medical director of Mayo's affiliated practice network, in the article.

Upon release of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) draft ACO rules, both Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic--along with other leaders including Geisinger Health System and Intermountain Healthcare--denounced the proposed Shared Savings program as a way to carry out the accountable care model.

Instead, the anticipated affiliations with physician practices are a way for the health systems to reach the outpatient population and are a possible alternative to employment and acquisition so popular among other health systems these days.

"Hospitals have to be more strategic in terms of working referrals," said Dr. Kenneth Cohn, a general surgeon and frequent blogger for Hospital Impact.

"Physicians can refer patients to anybody they want. And referral patterns are not just local. They're becoming statewide and national. We're recognizing that referral networks eventually may have to be global," said Cohn.

For more information:
- read the amednews article

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