4 tips for selecting a hospital-alignment model

As FiercePracticeManagement reported from the Medical Group Management Association conference last fall, several options exist for physicians and practices to maintain their independence while still reaping some benefits of aligning with a hospital.

"Employment has been all the rage in the last seven years, but now we are seeing other alignments [between physicians and hospitals] more often," Kevin Kennedy, a Seattle-based member of the board of directors for ECG Management Consultants, a strategic and financial consulting firm, recently told American Medical News.

However, picking a nonemployment alignment "can be very time-consuming," Kennedy warned American Medical News, "and physicians have to be very methodical about choosing an alignment model."

Therefore, keep the following considerations in mind when looking at hospital-alignment opportunities:

  • Weigh how much autonomy you are willing to give up for financial rewards, or vice versa, as these two factors are usually inversely related. Keep in mind that limited alignments favor higher autonomy, while full alignment offers higher pay and moderate alignments fall in between.
  • Center your discussion around your practice's goals, rather than a particular alignment model.  "After physicians have identified their practice problems and understand the basic alignment models, they should seek out other physicians who are aligned with local hospitals to learn about their experiences," experts told American Medical News.
  • Don't make any decisions about aligning with a hospital until after discussing your core values, said Tom Atchison, head of Atchison Consulting, a healthcare financial consulting firm in Le Claire, Iowa. If your values don't match, walk away.
  • Watch for red flags. Keep a keen eye out for language about termination clauses, noncompete agreements and other thorny contract issues. In addition, steer clear of entities that won't permit you to meet directly with their top executives.

To learn more:
- read the article from American Medical News

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