July 12, 2019 by John Fernandez
Improving Patient Experience Drives Growth in Physician Networks
Even the most advanced medical care requires a cohesive and multidisciplinary team of physicians, surgical specialists and other professionals to provide ideal patient-focused care.
In the rapidly evolving healthcare field, networks of physicians committed to improving the patient experience are becoming vital assets to local communities. Such is the case for both the Baptist Health Medical Group (BHMG) and the Baptist Health Quality Network (BHQN), where highest quality care at a lower cost is always the goal.
BHMG is a network of more than 260 primary care physicians and medical and surgical specialists, including more than 40 physician practices extending throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe Counties. BHQN is a network of physicians between Baptist Health South Florida and the most qualified doctors throughout the region. The Network is led by doctors, not administrators or insurance companies
Read our Q&A with the leaders of the two networks, Bernie Fernandez, M.D, chief executive officer, Baptist Health Medical Group, and Jonathan Fialkow, M.D., chief health population officer, Baptist Health South Florida, and executive medical director, Baptist Health Quality Network.
Question: Changes in the healthcare system nationally and locally have been substantial. How has Baptist Health Medical Group (BHMG) and Baptist Health Quality Network (BHQN) adapted to these changes?
Dr. Fernandez: We realized there has been an increase in cost of medicine and it is due primarily to how fragmented healthcare is. BHMG has partnered with BHQN and increased access to primary care physicians to allow patients to have great care at lower cost. We want patients to have appropriate access to the right care and the right time in the right place.
Dr. Fialkow: I would say that BHQN looks at the healthcare of an individual across the spectrum of their needs. Rather than just being concerned about an episode of care such as a hospitalization, BHQN is moving towards helping an individual across doctor office visits, any urgent care or emergency room visits, hospitalizations — and is even addressing a patients needs at home. Patients’ lives don’t start and stop when they enter and leave a doctor’s office or a hospital.
Question: To clarify for the consumer, what distinguishes BHMG from BHQN?
Dr. Fernandez: BHQN is a network of physicians of which BHMG is a part. BHQN is the infrastructure and they collaborate with insurance plans to bring together the physicians and health plans to look for opportunities to provide better care at lower cost. Our focus is to continue care and the prevention of diseases.
Dr. Fialkow: BHQN is a clinically integrated network of over 1000 physicians dedicated toward working together to improve the quality of care, decrease costs of care and improve patient satisfaction and physician satisfaction. BHMG is the employed-physician group of physicians at Baptist Health South Florida. BHMG doctors are members of BHQN and BHQN has hundreds of independent doctors who are not part of BHMG.
Question: BHMG and BHQN combine world-class physicians with the latest advances in treatments and technology. What are some of these advances?
Dr. Fernandez: COEs (Centers of Excellence) have allowed us to provide the highest level of support to patients when it is needed. Miami Cancer Institute has access to all forms of radiation, and we are able to provide what is most appropriate for the patient should the need arise.
Dr. Fialkow: The bulk of the latest advances have to do with data technology. Electronic medical records have not been able to bridge divides between doctors’ offices and patient experiences. BHQN uses state-of-the-art population management software and workflows to identify patients at highest risk and cost, and provide means of supporting their care. The software allows us to see where a patient may benefit from less expensive medication alternatives and helps to identify patients who are due for various medical screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. We can also identify patients with many chronic disease conditions so they may be contacted by our expert staff who can assess the needs of the individual and provide support.
Question: What are the benefits to the health consumer that BHMG and BHQN provide and how do these benefits differ from other health systems?
Dr. Fernandez: We want to make sure patients get the right treatment at the right place. We are focusing on preventive care versus sick care. We have a quadruple aim, where we focus on patient experience, physician satisfaction, increase in quality and decrease in cost. We are screening patients for anxiety and depression and other mental health issues.
Dr. Fialkow: When physicians and health systems work together instead of as competitors, the consumer benefits. The consumer may be the patient, their employer and the insurance company. Identifying and eliminating waste such as repetitive testing, while providing less costly medication alternatives and helping make appointments can ultimately save money. Identifying patients with chronic conditions and supporting them before they may need a hospital or procedure keeps people healthier and avoids unnecessary costs. Providing data to the physicians about their patent care and helping create the relationships and communications to support patient care prevents errors and decreases patient anxiety.
Question: What exactly is “patient-centric care” and how is it achieved through BHMG and BHQN?
Dr. Fernandez: Making it easier for the patient to have the right access at the right time, while helping them navigate throughout the system. The patient is front and center. Our patients have access to their medical records, extended weekend hours and can communicate with their care team through the patient portal.
Dr. Fialkow: Patient-centric care has several components, but the main one is understanding the patients’ needs and desires as healthcare is administered. It looks at the relationship between the patient and the provider as a partnership, rather than the physician dictating to the patient what should be done. It helps patients understand their own health and well-being, and recognizes that patients have choices in their healthcare and the provider should support that.
Queston: How can the health consumer verify that a physician is part of BHMG or BHQN?