Magazine article Medical Economics

"I Don't Believe There's Another Animal like This"

Magazine article Medical Economics

"I Don't Believe There's Another Animal like This"

Article excerpt

An innovative approach to management and governance is found in Jackson, Mich., where physicians have joined in a partnership with their local hospital and PhyCor, the physician practice management company.

Four years ago, radiologist Fred E. Patterson and another physician formed the nucleus of a multispecialty group. Called the Jackson Physicians Alliance, the group now has roughly 90 doctors, many of them from solo practices. JPA welcomes global capitation-"We're taking as much risk as the health plans will transfer to us," Patterson says. He anticipates that by the end of 1997, JPA will have a minimum of five contracts with between 11,000 and 30,000 covered lives.

"It was obvious to us that we needed a management partner," Patterson says. "We hit upon PhyCor as the optimal fit. They could bring a lot of management expertise, and they were also willing to be an investor."

But the local hospital, W.A. Foote Memorial, which was unhappy about JPA's organizing to begin with, viewed PhyCor as a threat. "PhyCor carries negative connotations that I think are unjustified," Patterson says. "Everyone's afraid of bigness and being dominated by forces outside the community."

But he says PhyCor brought in "superb people" who succeeded in bringing the doctors and hospital together on common ground, "with both groups understanding there was a need for change, and that we weren't going to be successful fighting one another."

The result: Cascades Health Partners-an entity with equal investment from the doctors' professional corporation, the hospital, and PhyCor. …

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