--The independent physicians will affiliate with
"We needed to grow our network," said
Ward, who has a background in behavioral health, has heard about the need for that specialty locally.
"We're recruiting a psychiatrist," he said.
"It grew into this amazing organization," he said.
In the days before Google, email and smartphones,
That morphed into a sophisticated email system and then to the health information exchange, "one of the pioneers in the country," Weber said. "All of it flows more smoothly. It was funded by PMG, but it benefited our entire practice."
The exchange links hundreds of doctors, hospitals, safety net clinics, labs, radiology centers and surgery centers, transmitting clinical data providers need about their patients, with their consent.
Another PMG initiative supplied machines in doctor offices to do the hemoglobin A1c test for patients with diabetes, monitoring their blood sugar levels.
"It made a huge difference," Weber said. "We're using it on all our patients."
He is part of a national data-gathering network based at the
The doctors who own
"Quite frankly it's time," said Labrie. "We're too small now to participate in contracting...The Affordable Care Act is certainly a variable."
Since the law was signed in 2010, consolidation has ramped up nationwide among insurers, hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical companies.
The four largest insurers --
Although mergers often result in layoffs, "everyone here is being offered jobs," Labrie said.
He hopes the affiliation will attract a
A benefit for patients is having more services in one network, said Dr.
She affiliated with
The high cost of
Another way to grow would be to build a clinic, but that was not deemed feasible.
"It's really expensive to build a clinic in
Doctors coming out of medical school and residency often have
"We tried for years to recruit," said Jackson, who found new doctors are not interested in a private practice, which requires the expense of electronic health records and tracking various measures as a way to improve medical care.
"They haven't been taught the business of medicine," said Ward.
"A lot of physicians want to have a real life," said Labrie.
The groups were aiming to keep the cost trend at 3.6 percent in 2015 after experiencing a 4.5 percent increase the two years before.
Those involved gathered claims data, examined clinical cases driving up costs -- including diabetes, opioid overuse, hospital readmissions and patients using more drugs than medically necessary. This initiative, known as an accountable care organization, resulted in savings for the hospital and for
The first two years uncovered more opportunities for savings than the second year. One example was stabilizing use of the emergency department. Another was smoother transitions between the hospital, nursing home and home care.
The collaboration "resulted in one of the most competitively priced health care options in
"I sent a number of patients today to
His practice is about 40 percent HMO patients, 30 percent
His wife's family is from
Coulson feels fortunate that with the support from colleagues, he was able to coach his sons' soccer and lacrosse teams. "You want your independence and you want to take advantage of services a larger organization has to offer," he said. "You want the best of both worlds."
PHYSICIANS MEDICAL GROUP OF
What: 250 physicians, includes 40-plus primary care doctors accepting new patients, 42 specialties, and a team of patient care coordinators.
Where: 100 locations in
Urgent care sites: Dignity Health Medical Group Urgent Care, 1820-
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