By Laura Ramos Hegwer
Nearly two years ago, Iowa Health System (IHS), Des Moines, Iowa, launched an academy to prepare promising physicians for future leadership roles in the organization. "We had a growing need for physician leaders, and we knew there was good raw talent in house, but it had to be harnessed and developed," says Alan Kaplan, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, IHS, and president and CEO, Iowa Health Physicians.
In 2010, the 15-hospital system turned to the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) to help develop what would become the IHS Physician Leadership Academy. In just three months, Kaplan and Emily Porter, vice president of people excellence, designed the leadership curriculum and application process for the academy.
In July 2011, the first 36 physicians graduated from the academy with a formal graduation ceremony. The second group, which includes 40 physicians, will graduate this August. At press time, IHS was planning its third year of physician leadership development.
The academy offers a 12-month curriculum that combines self-paced, online courses with group, onsite education sessions that bring the physicians together once a quarter. The combination of onsite and online sessions helps keep costs down.
Courses range from financial decision making to "soft skills" such as effective communication. Faculty are nationally recognized speakers provided by ACPE. During the quarterly group sessions, IHS leaders also serve as faculty, offering their perspective on the health system's path toward becoming an accountable care organization (ACO), among other topics.
The quarterly onsite meetings have been particularly valuable for fostering camaraderie and teamwork among up-and-coming physician leaders, says Kaplan. "The relationships that have been built during these onsite meetings have been important for our development as a system."
In particular, having a core group of motivated, team-oriented physicians has helped smooth the transition to IHS's newly aligned medical group. The still unnamed group, launched in January, is the result of IHS buying and merging multiple regional physician groups into one organization. The groups ranged in size from 10 to more than 270 providers.
Currently, the medical group includes more than 470 IHS-employed physicians with another 300 expected to join later this year. Several recent graduates of the IHS Physician Leadership Academy are involved in managing the new medical group, which is the ninth senior affiliate of IHS. Like IHS's hospitals, which comprise the other eight affiliates, the medical group has its own board of directors with delegates to the parent board.
While enrolled in the academy, physicians participate in projects that give them hands-on leadership opportunities in support of the health system's strategic goals. Some physicians enrolled in the academy are working on projects that will help IHS become ACO ready.
Many others are focused on IT. For example, one physician designed computerized physician order entry order sets and trained the medical staff at her critical access hospital on how to use them. In addition, several chief medical information officers who are enrolled in the academy are helping the IHS's regional hospitals roll out a new electronic health record.
Only about half of physicians who apply are accepted into the academy. In the first year, enrollment was limited to employed physicians, a pool that includes more than 800 physicians. But IHS has since opened up the program to a select number of independent physicians, drawing from more than 2,600 physicians affiliated with the system.
Kaplan says the ideal applicants have already shown an interest in system leadership by volunteering for committees or projects, such as medical home development. Not surprisingly, IHS turns down applicants who cite being "burnt out from clinical work" as a reason to explore leadership opportunities in the system, he adds.
After the academy staff screens the applications, they ask leaders in the physicians' region to rate the applicants for leadership potential.
Over the course of a year, physicians earn 113 CME credit hours that can be applied toward a Certified Physician Executive (CPE) designation, a master's degree in business administration, or another master's level program.
Once physicians graduate from the program, Porter helps connect them with other IHS leaders who serve as mentors to help graduates develop their potential.
In addition to improving physicians' team-building skills, the leadership academy has helped foster trust between the health system and the medical staff, according to Porter, who cites interviews with recent academy graduates. "They see the investment that we are making in them, today and in their future."
Laura Ramos Hegwer is a freelance writer and editor based north of Chicago.
Interviewed for this article:
Alan Kaplan, MD, is senior vice president and CMO, Iowa Health System, and president and CEO, Iowa Health Physicians, Des Moines (KaplanA@ihs.org).
Emily Porter, is vice president of people excellence, Iowa Health System.
McKesson: Leveraging Predictive Analytics to Rein in Operating Costs
A leader from McKesson discusses how healthcare reform is forcing hospitals and health systems to take a different approach to capacity management and patient flow.
6 Patient Revenue Cycle Metrics You Should Be Tracking (and How to Improve Your Results)
Patient financial engagement is more challenging than ever – and more critical. With patient responsibility as a percentage of revenue on the rise, providers have seen their billing-related costs and accounts receivable levels increase. If increasing collection yield and reducing costs are a priority for your organization, the metrics outlined in this presentation will provide the framework you need to understand what’s working and what’s not, in order to guide your overall patient financial engagement initiatives and optimize results.
Accretive Health: Partners with Providers to Excel in a Rapidly Transforming Revenue Cycle Environment
Emad Rizk, MD, president and CEO of Accretive Health, discusses the uncertainty facing hospitals and the transitions affecting revenue cycle management.
10 Ways to Reduce Patient Statement Volume (and Reduce Costs)
No two patients are the same. Each has a very personal healthcare experience, and each has distinct financial needs and preferences that have an impact on how, when and if they chose to pay their healthcare bill. It’s no longer effective to apply static billing techniques to solve the complex challenge of collecting balances from patients. The need to tailor financial conversations and payment options to individual needs and preferences is critical. This presentation provides 10 recommendations that will not only help you improve payment performance through a more tailored approach, but take control of rising collection costs.
Conifer Health Solutions: Helping Providers and Employers Build a Foundation for Better Health
Jim Bohnsack, vice president, solution & corporate development for Conifer Health Solutions, explains how the company helps healthcare providers leverage data to deliver better outcomes while optimizing reimbursement for all payment arrangements.
Reduce Patient Balances Sent to Collection Agencies: Approaching New Problems with New Approaches
This white paper, written by Apex Vice President of Solutions and Services, Carrie Romandine, discusses the importance of patient segmentation and messaging specifically related to the patient revenue cycle. Applying strategic messaging that is tailored to each patient type will not only better educate consumers on payment options specific to their billing needs, but it will maximize the amount collected before sending to collections. Further, targeted messaging should be applied across all points of patient interaction (i.e. point of service, customer service, patient statements) and analyzed regularly for maximized results.
Ontario Systems: Optimizing Accounts Receivable in a Rapidly Changing Environment
Steve Scibetta, senior director of channel sales for Ontario Systems' healthcare product line, shares insights into effectively managing receivables.
The Future of Online Patient Billing Portals
This white paper, written by Apex President Patrick Maurer, discusses methods to increase patient adoption of online payments. Providers are now seeking ways to incrementally collect more payments due from patients as well as speeding up the rate of collections. This white paper shows why patient-centric approaches to online payment portals are important complements to traditional provider-centric approaches.
Optum: Enabling Transformative Change
Elena White, vice president of risk, quality, and network solutions for Optum, discusses how healthcare providers can leverage data and technology as they enable risk in their organization.
Payment Portals Can Improve Self-Pay Collections and Support Meaningful Use
Increased electronic engagement between healthcare providers and patients provides significant opportunities for improving revenue cycle metrics and encouraging patients to access EHRs. This article, written by Apex Founder and CEO Brian Kueppers, explores a number of strategies to create synergy between patient billing, online payment portals and electronic health record (EHR) software to realize a high ROI in speed to payment, patient satisfaction and portal adoption for meaningful use.
Somnia: Bending the Healthcare Cost Curve Toward Improved Anesthesia Value
Somnia President and CEO Marc Koch, MD, MBA, explains how hospitals can drive transformative change in the perioperative experience for outstanding clinical and financial outcomes.
Large Health System Drives 10% UP (Patient Payments) and 10% DOWN (Billing-related Costs)
Faced with a rising tide of bad debt, a large Southeastern healthcare system was seeing a sharp decline in net patient revenues. The need to improve collections was dire. By integrating critical tools and processes, the health system was able to increase online payments and improve its financial position. Taking a holistic approach increased overall collection yield by 10% while costs came down because the number of statements sent to patients fell by 10%, which equated to a $1.3M annualized improvement in patient cash over a six-month period. This case study explains how.
PMMC: Navigating Revenue Cycle Management Challenges as Value Based Purchasing Emerges
PMMC President Roger L. Shaul discusses the effects of healthcare reform on revenue cycle management and how PMMC's products help clients adapt to a changing financial environment.
ICD-10: Managing Performance
With the ICD10 deadline quickly approaching and daily responsibilities not slowing down, final preparations for October 1 require strategic prioritization and laser focus.
Burgess: Simplify the Business of Healthcare
Greg Burgess, Founder and Chief Product Officer at Burgess Group shares insights and opportunities for payment integrity in the rapidly changing healthcare IT landscape.
Clarity Drives Collections
Read how Gwinnett Medical Center provides clear connections to financial information, offers multiple payment options for patients, and gives onsite staff the ability to collect payments at multiple points throughout the care process.
Orlando Health Gains Insight into Denials, Reduces A/R Days with RelayAnalytics Acuity
Read how Orlando Health was able to perform deeper dives into claims data to help the health system see claim rejections more quickly–even on the front end–and reduce A/R days.
Revenue Cycle Payment Clarity
To maintain fiscal fitness and boost patient satisfaction and loyalty, healthcare providers need visibility into when and how much they will be paid–by whom–and the ability to better navigate obstacles to payment. They need payment clarity. This whitepaper illuminates this concept that is winning fans at forward-thinking hospitals.
Streamlining the Patient Billing Process
Financial services staff are always looking for ways to improve the verification, billing and collections processes, and Munson Healthcare is no different. Read about how they streamlined the billing process to produce cleaner bills on the front end and helped financial services staff collect more than $1 million in additional upfront annual revenue in one year.
Wallace Thomson Hospital Automates to Maximize Limited Resources
Effective revenue cycle management can be a challenge for any hospital, but for smaller providers it is even tougher. Read how Wallace Thomson identified unreimbursed procedures, streamlined claims management, and improved its ability to determine charity eligibility.
7 Steps for Building and Funding Sustainability Projects
Before launching an energy-efficiency initiative, it’s important to build a solid business case and understand the funding options and potential incentives that are available. Healthcare leaders should consider taking the steps outlined in the whitepaper to ease the process of gaining approval, piloting, implementing, and supporting sustainability projects. You will find that investing in sustainability and energy efficiency helps hospitals add cash to their bottom line. Discover how hospitals and health systems have various options for funding energy-efficient and renewable-energy initiatives, depending on their current financial structure and strategy.
Key Capital Considerations for Mergers and Acquisitions
Health care is a dynamic mergers and acquisitions market with numerous hospitals and health systems contemplating or pursuing formal arrangements with other entities. These relationships often pose a strategic benefit, such as enhancing competencies across the continuum, facilitating economies of scale, or giving the participants a competitive advantage in a crowded market. Underpinning any profitable acquisition is a robust capital planning strategy that ensures an organization reserves sufficient funds and efficiently onboards partners that advance the enterprise mission and values.
Key Capital Considerations for Mergers and Acquisitions
The success of healthcare mergers, acquisitions, and other affiliations is predicated in part on available capital, and the need for and sources of funding are considerations present throughout the partnering process, from choosing a partner to evaluating an arrangement’s capital needs to selecting an integration model to finding the right money source to finance the deal. This whitepaper offers several strategies that health system leaders have used to assess and manage capital needs for their growing networks.