Industry Voices—Partnerships like Health First and Privia Health help balance physician autonomy, customer satisfaction
Health systems are partnering with physicians to improve patient care. (iStockPhoto)

Health system executives from across the country routinely face challenges surrounding advancing quality, controlling cost, improving outcomes and, of course, increasing top-line growth. Historically, the answer has been to attempt to solve these challenges through mergers, acquisitions and employed-provider contracts.

But in the age of consumer-focused healthcare, a new solution is required.

Healthcare is rapidly changing, and we must evolve our customer engagement strategies. Today, healthcare is challenged with unsustainable costs and unaligned incentives that drive unaffordable healthcare for consumers and those that fund healthcare. The industry tends to focus on solutions to improve internal processes at the expense of delighting its customers and aligning with the providers that can create positive change.

In an environment where consumers are funding more and more of their healthcare costs, we must pivot away from traditional approaches and move to customer- and provider-centric solutions. This will enable transparent costs—for which the consumer sees value.

To successfully transition to value-based contracts, health systems must include physician engagement and autonomy. How a health system chooses to work with physicians today will profoundly impact its future.

Photo of man in suit
Steve Johnson
(Health First)

Every healthcare executive should carefully consider how to operate in an increasingly dynamic market transitioning to consumer preference and choices for care. With these changes on the horizon, there is a crucial need to instill a unified approach to engaging private practice physicians and improving the customer’s experience. An effective way to create this continuum is through an Integrated Delivery Network (IDN) that understands and chooses to partner with both employed and private practice physicians. 

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In order to establish this unified healthcare front, partnerships must be a top priority.

When leading with a customer-centric approach, decision-makers should consider which organizations can amplify this goal while simultaneously strengthening physician relationships. Providers have an incredibly diverse set of needs, and it is imperative that partnerships optimize alignment of both private practice and health-system-employed providers to meet these needs. Regardless of how physicians practice, they are the direct conduit to high-quality, affordable healthcare delivered with compassion and exceptional experience.

Photo of man in suit
Shawn Morris
(Privia Health)

For instance, Health First’s partnership with Privia Health was born from this exact need.

Through this partnership, Privia Health provides essential tools, talent and technology to Health First’s physicians while also building a bridge to private practice physicians throughout the region. The partnership will allow Health First-employed physicians and private practice physicians who opt in to operate on a single electronic health record while at the same time more thoughtfully optimizing the physicians’ journey in the world of value-based care.

Additionally, the patient engagement technology—including telemedicine and integrated online scheduling—drives greater satisfaction and creates an environment where the ideal version of population health places a priority on enabling connectivity between associates and physicians, regardless of their choice practice preference, whether private or employed. 

Not all physicians choose to be employed by a health system and instead wish to maintain their autonomy and private practice capabilities. However, they desire to have a relationship and the resources that are available through working closely with an IDN.

Consumers will ultimately choose where to receive their care, so they should partner with best-in-class physicians regardless of the logo on their sign. For customers, partnerships like these mean preferred access and affordable healthcare, which includes their provider interacting with them where, when and how they want to receive care.

This type of health system relationship may be considered unique today, but the hope is that similar partnerships quickly move to the industry standard—for the greater good of all healthcare.

Steve Johnson is CEO of Health First, and Shawn Morris is CEO of Privia Health.