Michigan Medical, PC: Ted Inman, CEO

by HCE Exchange on August 19, 2010

At first glance Michigan Medical P.C. (mmpc®) might look like just a regular doctor’s group, but upon closer inspection, you will find that mmpc is actually the largest physician-owned multi-specialty group in West Michigan, and one of the largest physician partnerships in Michigan. The group consists of over 300 healthcare providers scattered all across western Michigan, with most of the providers concentrated in the areas surrounding the population hubs of Grand Rapids, Holland, Grand Haven and Greenville, Michigan. Most physicians are conveniently located within a 45-mintue drive of each other.

Doctors Make Total Patient Care a Priority

The physician group’s slogan “Putting the Patients First” is more than just a catch phrase for the organization. The group has implemented several initiatives to make sure patients realize they are getting the best care possible. From customer service initiatives, like having live operators staff patient calls and on-site billing specialists to assist with insurance concerns, to the “Health Zone” online community resource and an efficient referral system that specializes in both in-network referrals and collaborations with non-mmpc specialists, it’s clear to see the group has put its words into action.

mmpc: Offering Flexibility for Specialists

CEO Ted Inman has been with the group since its inception in 1995 and has been at the group’s helm since 2006. “I was a health care lawyer by training, practiced for 17 years prior to this role and became involved with mmpc when there was a merger which resulted in the group’s formation.” Today, mmpc is now the largest multi-specialty group in the state, with a net revenue of $170 million. “We pride ourselves on being a multi-specialty group and we have the most specialties in Grand Rapids.” Although the group does not have hospital-based specialties like ER and anesthesiology, it does contract out for other specialties like radiology services. MMPC has imaging services from X-ray to MRI, a highly complex lab and physical therapy.

In general, mmpc has over 200 physicians throughout West Michigan. These include specialists in over 50 health care areas and 30 specialties, everything from arthritis and diabetes specialists to endocrinology and orthopaedics sports medicine. “Currently we have about 205 physicians, about 100 mid-level providers like nurse practitioners, physician assistants, audiologists, diabetic educators and 1400 employees. We are in fact the 10th largest private employer in the region,” says Inman.

Putting the Physicians in The Driver’s Seat

One of the most appealing aspects of mmpc’s mission and organization for doctors is the true physician governance the group offers. “I work for the physicians, certainly I help drive strategy, but they are the ones in control. I think that is very important to the group’s success.”

“We think in the health care arena today that physicians they need to be involved in not only their own groups but in health care as a whole. We partner very much with hospitals and provide a lot of in-patient services.” This puts mmpc in a unique position because the group often partners with hospitals that they are at the same time competing against. “We feel there needs to be collaboration with health systems. We are often the common denominator between hospitals and our regionality is one of our strong points.”

One of the major challenges for the group is competition from hospitals who are also involved in physician employment. Inman says it is a threat but something the group has to compete with. “But at the same time we are trying to make ourselves attractive to physician groups, we are not all-inclusive and we very much look at the quality of the physicians who join us.”

Electronic Efficiency Equals Better Care

Like many health care organizations, making the shift to electronic medical records is a priority for mmpc. Because of the particular benefits for their group, mmpc has been able to put this goal quickly into place to maximize the benefits its received. “Becoming efficient enough clinically and in business, integrated enough in order to attract and retain physicians and retain a market share, we’ve had to pay attention to improving patient care. One major improvement that we have implemented is electronic records and by October 2009 we plan to fully implement this change. This is making a huge difference since patient records are easily available. With a fairly high level of seniors who see multiple physicians in our group, this has become a major way to attract new patients.” Inman goes on to explain other benefits of electronic medical records, from internal medicine and specialists efficiency to the electronic records acting as a facilitator for other integrated projects. “This has helped our offices perform well; in fact we are at the highest level of indicators for our two largest payors.”

Core Values Designed for Independence and Quality

Inman explains the values of mmpc can be broken down into four distinct qualities. The first is to be multi-specialty so that the group can attract a large patient base and serve many different patients. The second is physician self-governance. “We believe passionately in this model and it is the core of our organization and the reason why physicians choose to be a part of our group,” explains Inman. Next the group believes in a new model of leadership, which they refer to as shared governance rather than departmental autonomy that is prevalent in hospital structures. Finally, the group’s efforts come back to their central focus on service excellence and putting patients first. In fact, the group plans to invest capital in not only specific areas like imaging and lab improvements, but in general infrastructure, like the consolidation of facilities. “Even the main campus will need to be remade for better integration. Ultimately interaction with the patient and connection with other providers will drive us to design these changes and we plan to spend a lot of time and money on that. The savings and efficiencies, from a staffing and revenue generating perspective, from having physicians together will benefit us in the long-term.” Right down to the real estate, which the group plans to own, mmpc wants to retain control on all fronts.

For Inman and the physician-run mmpc, inspiration comes from the challenge of leading a change in the way health care groups are organized. “Everyone is resistant to change, but through communication and bringing together diverse specialties and locations, I feel we are offering something quite beneficial to the West Michigan community.” The group sees itself at the forefront of health care for the area and has taken steps to be a responsible asset to the community, from recruiting super-sub-specialty physicians to creating a pandemic flu plan with stock piles of vaccines. This effort has trickled down to the group’s charitable contributions, with Inman serving as Corporate Chair for the local Diabetes Walk and the group as a whole supporting a number of local health care organizations.

“We believe that we are going to do what we can to be a regional physician-owned, physician governed, multi-specialty group that does the right thing to attract and retain the right physicians for our group and for our community. Even though we are for profit, we are really focused on making sure this community is protected in the future and that’s not going to be easy. We think our model is the right way to go. Our model might not be the only way but we think it is one of the best.”

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