U physicians to consolidate their practices

Lynne Kozarek

In an effort to reduce the bureaucracy and red tape caused by the recent merger between University Hospital and Fairview Health Systems, 430 University full-time faculty physicians will form University of Minnesota Physicians — an organization aimed at streamlining the clinical process.
The program, which will begin July 1, will bring 18 separate departmental practices into one centralized multi-specialty practice. It was initiated to allow University Medical School physicians access to Fairview-University community patients and facilities.
“The main question here was, ‘How do you integrate community-based physicians with University physicians?'” said Lisa Jetland, executive director of UMP. “The University and Fairview are partners in this. This is a test and an opportunity for us to come together.”
Before the merger, those 18 independent practices provided clinical services through the University’s Medical School, but with no common authority. Medical School faculty members voted last July to create the single, multi-specialty UMP.
Bobbi Daniels, vice chairwoman for clinical affairs in the University’s Department of Medicine and UMP board member, said she is looking forward to UMP being in full swing this summer.
“The faculty recognized it is difficult for 18 different practice groups to compete in the health care market,” Daniels said.
She also said UMP is essential to maintain the academic mission of the Medical School. She added that by offering a broader patient base, physicians will have a better ability to support research and education.
“If we are in a group practice, it allows us to provide care for more people in the metro area and greater Minnesota,” she said.
William M. Thompson, M.D., chairman of radiology at the University and secretary of the UMP board, said this program is important because it will allow patients from the metro area to receive care from the Fairview-University system. Most patients of faculty physicians come from out-state Minnesota.
“Currently many patients from around the metro area are barred from treatment by University physicians because their Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) doesn’t allow them to come,” Thompson said. “When we merged with Fairview, we were affiliated with somebody who could guarantee patient flow and access to patients.”
Thompson said he welcomes the opportunity to work with the Fairview community and said his goal is to attempt to get UMP operating smoothly as soon as possible.
The program will operate as a non-profit organization, and the revenue it generates will support the Medical School and the University.
“It is unfortunate, but the reality for the University Medical School is declining revenue,” Jetland said. “We are working in a highly sophisticated managed care environment and the University has not been as effective to compete in that market.”
Only full-time Medical School faculty will be involved with the program, which will promote the consolidation of their practice. Clinical physicians, or privately practicing physicians who also teach part time, will not be involved in the program.
Currently, faculty physicians practice in Fairview-University Medical Clinic or hospital sites, but under the UMP program, these physicians and health science students will have increased opportunity to practice in outpatient clinics using both East and West Bank campus facilities.