Ohio health system rides wave of physician integration

Hospital-physician integration is gaining new urgency nationwide as hospitals seek to increase efficiencies and market power under current payment systems, as well as prepare for new payment systems that may include bundled, per-episode payments across the healthcare continuum.

The Ohio State University (OSU) Medical Center in Columbus is one of the latest hospitals to see the light. This year, OSU Medical Center will begin the process of integrating OSU Physicians, an eight-year-old physician practice that is affiliated with the university but previously has been a separate billing entity. By Jan. 1, 2011, all 617 physicians in the practice will be full university employees.

OSU Medical Center expects that integration will allow it to implement a complete electronic medical record--decreasing the number of redundant medical tests and improving patient access to health services.

 In addition, the health system believes the change will prove beneficial in contract negotiations with health insurers. "It will be pretty difficult for an employer to go back to their employees and say, 'I'm sorry, you can't go to the Ross (Heart Hospital) or the James (Cancer Hospital),'" says Dr. Steven Gabbe, chief executive of the health system. "It will help us negotiate, yes."

For more:
- read the Columbus Dispatch article