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NorthStar Anesthesia collaborates with Duke Health's Private Diagnostic Clinic

Irving, Texas-based NorthStar Anesthesia, an anesthesia management company, has signed an agreement with the Private Diagnostic Clinic, the physician practice of Durham, N.C.-based Duke Health.

Under the agreement, NorthStar Anesthesia, which manages the academic medical center program at Detroit Medical Center, will leverage their relationship with Duke to offer best in class solutions to other academic medical centers, according to a news release.

Phil Eichenholz, MD, president and founder of NorthStar Anesthesia, recently spoke with Becker’s Hospital Review in detail about the agreement.

Note: Interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What led to the agreement?

Phil Eichenholz: Northstar Anesthesia historically has been focused on community hospitals, large urban hospitals and more recently larger hospital systems in the private sector. But along the way, we've had conversations with different people and we certainly hear from those on the academic side who have similar struggles as those in the private sector.

At the Detroit Medical Center, which is owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, we went through a long and complicated request for proposal process and were fortunate to get chosen to partner with Tenet and the Detroit Medical Center. Through that whole process, we heard what we had heard all along, which was academic medical centers were looking for operational efficiency, struggling on the leadership front to a great degree and concurrently having to maintain the academic mission. They are always struggling to make sure they have good academic teachers and good clinicians. At the same time, they have to run large urban and suburban hospitals. These hospitals provide different challenges and it requires a lot from an academic department. We saw a lot of the academic chairmanships in anesthesia were open to new solutions because it's a tough leadership role. You have to know how to provide the operational excellence to run large clinical programs and at the same time succeed on the academic mission part.

We went into the Detroit Medical Center about a year and a half ago and it is going very well. Given all that, it is still a big jump for an academic medical center to agree to outsource an academic department. Enter Duke. They have the scholarly research. They're interested in doing large multicenter academic research trials that are very difficult for a number of the academic departments in anesthesia to do. Many of our academic folks in anesthesia are great clinicians, but that does not mean they have the research expertise to compete against basic scientists for extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health. We think Duke can help with the academic leadership because they have a number of great clinicians there who are also great leaders.

Q: What are the terms of the agreement?

PE: With Duke, we've entered into an agreement that we will together collaboratively manage and propose on programs at other academic medical centers that are receptive to the idea. I think a lot of academic medical center departments are run really well, and Duke is one of them, so we are not going in to manage the anesthesia department at Duke. But a lot of academic medical centers are struggling with leadership, how to run a large clinical program in an efficient manner and still succeed in the academic mission. So for those programs, NorthStar Anesthesia and Duke have an agreement to co-manage together an academic department.

Q: What is the goal with the partnership?

PE: The goal of the partnership is to open up the ability to participate in organizations like NorthStar Anesthesia to a whole sector of medicine similarly focused on excellence in anesthesia. More and more, with hospitals and health systems in the public and private sectors, we're having a dual approach where we combine strong clinical leaders with strong business leaders. And this is a way for an academic medical center to get best in business practices combined with best in clinical practices and best in academic teaching. Really that is what it comes down to.

For more information about the partnership, click here.


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