Continuum Health Alliance has acquired a controlling interest in independent provider network Partners in Care, setting the stage for a new kind of partnership for both companies.
Continuum has been focused on helping independent physicians stay independent in a time when consolidation is the norm and the health care industry is traversing a number of volatile landscapes.
Which is why the decision to collaborate with East Brunswick-based PIC is no surprise, according to Continuum CEO Don McDaniel.
“Our drive is to build the ecosystem (physicians need). We’re not a medical group, we’re a medical group enabler,” he said. “It’s a powerful partnership with PIC’s 600 physicians who are serving about 50,000 residents, predominantly in Central Jersey. We are turning into a family a little bit.”
The move was made after PIC approached Continuum about working together, and the latter found a number of alignments with the services PIC offered and the tools Continuum provided. Namely, Continuum is focused on population health and the data platform that can help physicians better navigate through a changing reimbursement system that focuses on efficiency and bundled payments.
“Since its inception in 1995, PIC has provided the highest level of service to our partners and clients,” Dr. Steven Goldberg, PIC’s chairman of the board, said in a statement. “However, today’s quickly evolving health care landscape demands even greater capabilities and assets. As one of the region’s leading physician enablement companies with a proven record of success in practice optimization and value-based care, Continuum brings expanded reach and resources to our providers. We look forward to the combined strengths of both organizations resulting in a new enterprise with the ability to create innovative opportunities for our members.”
Dr. Mauro Tucci, chief medical officer of Partners in Care, said he believes the move will better equip physicians.
“Physicians need data, real-time data, on the outcomes of our patients, as the paradigm has shifted to a more value-based system,” Tucci said.
Which is why the partnership can help with efficiency and saving money for the overall system, Continuum’s chief strategy officer, Dan Brooks said. Especially since there have been recent studies showing that independent physicians can cost up to 20 percent less than hospital physicians.
McDaniel stressed the controlling interest and investment in PIC — the amount of which remains undisclosed — is “not a come in and control thing.”
His comments were echoed by Brooks.
“Specifically, we purchased, or bought into PIC, a controlling share. But, we wanted to make this a partnership,” Brooks said, adding that the total shares will remain undisclosed as part of the condition of partnership.
With all the requirements the physicians face, from changes under the new Medicare payment reform rules, quality requirements for reporting and value-based arrangements, there is pressure for the physicians to find technology or administrative partners, but also adopt an efficient workflow, Brooks said.
And the plan is to continue expanding to create a statewide physician network, Brooks said.
“The next level is talking to independent physicians and also some larger groups, as well as some hospital-affiliated physicians,” he said.
McDaniel said Continuum is “actively pursuing other partnerships.”
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