Stampede of doctors joins Detroit Medical Center PHO

Within a month of hearing Detroit Medical Center's invitation, 500 doctors signed up to join the large multi-hospital systems new physician-hospital organization (PHO), Dr. Steven Grant told FierceHealthcare. They paid a $250 fee to join.

In April, DMC brought Grant on board as executive director for the PHO, which he helped develop, and as DMC's executive vice president of physician partnerships. Already, DMC has applied to join Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's physician group incentive program.

"To have 500 doctors sign up within a few weeks exceeded our expectations," he said. The mix of doctors in the PHO includes private physicians on DMC's medical staff and 75 full-time physicians employed by the system. Eventually, Grant projects 1,000 doctors will sign up, including many physicians with Wayne State University's medical school.

Starting in early to mid-September, DMC held four town hall meetings to introduce physicians to the PHO idea.

"The most common question was 'Why do we need to do this?'" Grant said. "The answer is: 'if you're not associated with an organized physician group or PHO, you really don't know how you're managing your patients.' You don't have access to some of the incentive programs that are out there."

If ACOs become a reality, said Grant, "you want to be in the game." He justified DMC's move to create a physician-hospital organization, saying that it made sense to get the infrastructure in place to create an ACO.

When asked what would happen to the hospitals and doctors that don't join ACOs, Grant was vaguer. After all, the rules for becoming an ACO have yet to be published.

"ACOs are going to be a big experiment and nobody knows how it will turn out," he said. "Whether Medicare will penalize providers or pay them less if they don't play along, nobody knows yet....People who can provide quality care in the most cost effective manner--those are the people who are going to be the winners."

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