How South Shore Hospital Integrated Its Clinicians

In a session at the Becker's Hospital Review Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 15th, panelists from South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth, Mass., discussed how their hospital and physicians developed and created an integrated clinical network.

Several years ago, the hospital and its medical staff embarked on a joint venture to address the fragmented physician environment, said Jennifer Tomasik, healthcare practice leader at CFAR, who moderated the panel.

This collaboration led to the development of the Health Provider Services Organization, a governance body comprised of elected physicians to bring physicians and administration together to improve the health of the community.

A key factor to successful integration was allowing physician self-regulation and autonomy.

"Clinical integration is physician led. It's engaging physicians and bringing them together to establish the network itself, what goals and metrics they want to work on to make sure it's valuable to them," said Karen McLoughlin, vice president and executive director of the HPSO.

This integration includes and requires extra efforts in physician education and leadership skills. Michael Ayers, MD, physician director and chair of the HPSO, said it incorporated lean training at the hospital to help physician leaders step up into these roles and lay the foundation for success. Additionally, he said the time and effort spent on teaching physicians the ins and outs of the administrative side of the hospital was critical.

"We spent a year studying our environment," he said. "Physicians learned about our finances, so we as a group had a common knowledge base. Administrators have no clue what it's like to be in an office with 45 patients, and physicians have no clue what it's like to make budgets."

Luke O'Connell, MD, physician director and secretary of the HPSO and the group’s chair in the coming election cycle, said a major responsibility of leadership is to keep the medical staff engaged and to continue building on their progress.

"A major risk of not keeping this momentum going is that our medical staff and hospital isn't prepared for the transition to value-based care," he said. "We've built momentum and now we have to keep to that. The key is to find medical staff engaged as we go along."

More Articles on Physician Integration:

In Hospital Integration, Allow Physicians Autonomy
Physician Integration: Transitioning from 'Pacman' to Millennial Recruitment
How to Engage Physicians in the Transition From Volume to Value-Based Care

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