4 Ways Orthopedic Surgeons Partner With Hospitals

Written by Laura Dyrda | April 22, 2011 | Print  |
There are several ways orthopedic and spine surgeons can position themselves for partnerships with hospitals or leadership positions within that structure. Industry experts discuss the different forms a partnership could take and how surgeons can best position themselves for these partnerships.

1. Position yourself as a potential ACO partner.
Collaborations on accountable care organizations and patient-centered homes may be future possibilities for orthopedic surgeons to work with hospitals to improve the quality and cost of care. "We all hear about ACOs, but we don't know exactly what they are going to look like, so planning for a future ACO is hard," says Steve Fiore, CEO of Orthopedic Specialty Group in Fairfield, Conn. "However, they may fit in with everyone's plan in working closer together and taking care of the community."

To position yourself as a potential collaborator, participate in groups that hospitals often partner with, such as independent physicians' organizations and physician-hospital organizations. "You want to be in the loop so you aren't on the outside looking in," says Randy Shulkin, MBA, FACMPE, Principal Consultant with Culbert Healthcare Solutions. "These groups are already a participant in trying to maximize those referral relationships, which are going to be important for any type of ACO or integrated organization."

2. Joint venture for specialty center or surgery center. Many hospitals are looking for orthopedic and spine surgeons to help them develop a specialty centers or an outpatient surgery center. "These are, from the physicians' point of view, tangible ways that hospitals and physicians can build relationships together," says George Rappard, MD, director of the Los Angeles Brain and Spine Institute at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles. "There needs to be a continual focus on a shared vision for success." The joint ventured surgery centers can often offer surgical care at lower costs than hospitals with their larger overhead cost burden. So the surgery center also provides an advantage for the community." Surgery and specialty centers need to be strategically located to extend hospital services and to meet community needs.  

3. Partner with the hospital for new technology. Device companies often come to surgeons with new procedures or technology, which can be too expensive for a single surgeon or practice to afford. "Surgeons often know what devices they want to use, but the administration is rightfully skeptical because these things are a lot of money," says Neel Anand, MD, director of orthopedic spine surgery for the Spine Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. "The hospital and surgeons can work together to find a reasonable price. When there are different products coming in, the best way to bring them is by decreasing the price."

On some occasions, if new technology shows a significant positive impact on the patient's outcome, the hospital will be willing to pay a little more so they can advertise the new technology. "The surgeon brings the new technology, which has value to the hospital," says Dr. Anand. "Then the hospital sees value from the surgeon."

4. Join hospital committees.
A good place for orthopedic surgeons to start is with the quality committee. Surgeons can also easily become involved in medical credentialing committees, and committee involvement could eventually lead to medical directorships. Go to the administrator and let them know you are willing to help out where needed. "When you have a physician willing, the hospital will definitely find a spot for that person," says Andrew Halley, network executive of Halley Consulting Group.

Other options include becoming involved in patient care or nursing care committees, which could take the form of a directorship. "Surgeons want to have influence in the care of their patients," says Dr. Rappard. "They want to be decision makers as it pertains to their service line and patient care. This usually involves some sort of administrative position."

Read other coverage on orthopedic and spine surgeon relationships with hospitals:

- 9 Points for Orthopedic and Spine Surgeons on Forming a Positive Relationship With Hospitals

- 6 Different Methods for Orthopedic Surgeon-Hospital Alignment

- 5 Steps to Develop a Co-Management Arrangement for a Hospital Service Line

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