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Do You Know Your Customer’s Boss?

A study by the Center for Studying Health System Change noted that hospitals view physician employment as a way to prepare for payment reforms that shift from fee-for-service to methods that make providers more accountable for the cost and quality of patient care.

Insurer Highmark's pending deal to acquire the Pittsburgh-based West Penn Allegheny Health System adds an interesting twist to our title question. The Wall Street Journal last June reported that Highmark would pay salaries to doctors, offering them incentives to achieve quality and efficiency goals. Their integrated model would also rely on primary care doctors to coordinate patients' care and focus on preventive efforts.

The drivers behind these emerging collaborative relationships are spiraling healthcare costs and efforts to become more efficient.

Interestingly, device companies and many other stakeholders continue to be conspicuously missing-in-action as new models set like wet concrete. Time will tell if Highmark's move will set trends in the industry, but it is certainly indicative of strategic thinking on their part.

Highmark sees the writing on the wall: healthcare stakeholders that address our nation's core challenges, decreasing costs while increasing value, will be winners in this new healthcare environment.

Last November, Cogency Group Institute hosted Sales Leadership in the New Healthcare Environment, an online interactive workshop series to discuss these and other emerging trends in healthcare with respect to their impact on healthcare sales.

One of the speakers, John Ogunkeye, Executive Director/Vice President of the Jefferson University Physicians Group and COO of Jefferson Medical College, fielded a question from a spine executive who asked how the trend of physicians seeking employment at hospitals will impact a surgeon's choice for implants in areas like orthopaedics, spine, pacemakers, etc.

Ogunkeye's response was that hospital administrators are now asking whether those implants are being selected because they are cost-effective and proven to result in the best outcome, or because the physician has a relationship with the device company.

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