Fauquier Health: Rodger Baker, President and CEO

by HCE Exchange on January 15, 2011

In the American healthcare market, many independent physician practices are finding it harder to survive; some consider mergers with hospitals or health systems so that they can continue providing care. Fauquier Health in Warrenton, Virginia, provides quality care in its facilities, and also supports local physicians to keep vital services in the community.

“We work to fulfill our mission in the community of providing quality, patient-focused healthcare and tangible community benefit,” said Rodger Baker, president and chief executive officer. “Despite our growth, we remain a small, independent organization.”

Branching out to new markets

Fauquier Health is the larger holding company for several smaller organizations. Located in a suburb of the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, corporations under the health system umbrella include Fauquier Hospital and Fauquier Senior Living, the system’s long-term care division. The Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 115-bed skilled and intermediate nursing care center, is a cornerstone of that division.

The health system has recently expanded its senior living services with a $20 million assisted living facility. The Villa at Suffield Meadows is a 72-bed facility that opened in September of 2010. Most of the residents pay for care through private savings or long-term care insurance.

“The assisted living facility provides a level of care that is a little less intense than that provided in the nursing home,” Baker said. “It’s a strong need in our community, and we expect it to be full within a year.”

Supporting joint ventures and local physicians

About three years ago, Fauquier Health founded Fauquier Health Physician Services, a group of physician offices operated by doctors employed by the health system.

“We have had relationships with physicians for many years, but they have not been employed by us,” Baker said. “In our industry, many people are getting out of a residency or fellowship and want to focus on practicing medicine and not be concerned about the business of a practice.”

The model provides infrastructure, office space and office help, including marketing, billing and scheduling. Baker said the hospital is evaluating salary options, namely an annual base salary with incentives for productivity. Most of the physicians will have contracts of about three years and come from various specialties. By being part of the larger health system and having more resources, the physician organization is able to bring in specialists that smaller practices may find risky.

“This venture is allowing us to bring in specialties that previously weren’t offered in our community, such as an endocrinologist and an infectious disease specialist,” Baker said.

Fauquier Health has also provided assistance to a struggling primary care office. “From time to time there may be physician practices that may need the help of an outside organization to survive,” Baker said. He explained that a three-physician practice in the county lost a primary care provider and was facing higher overhead. The remaining physicians approached the health system suggesting a buyout, and asked for help recruiting a third physician.

“It is important to keep primary care services in the community,” Baker said. “Without our help, those physicians might have to leave the area.”

In addition to supporting local practices, the health system works to meet the requests of its community physicians. Fauquier has a joint venture with Prince William Hospital to provide radiation oncology in an area between the two facilities. The Cancer Center at Lake Manassas sees about 45 patients per day.

“We were able to spread the cost between two organizations and leverage two markets, allowing us to put together an entity that was more cost effective and served a broader region than either of us could by going it alone,” Baker said.

Another joint venture is with Valley Health System, located about 45 miles from Warrenton, to provide medical equipment for home use. This partnership came about after physicians in the community asked the health system to provide these services.

“We didn’t have the expertise in this area, so we looked for a partner that had been in the business for some time,” Baker said. The services are managed by Valley Health, but there is a storefront in Warrenton.

Maintaining a philosophy of care

With this growth and expansion into new areas, Baker said the expertise of the management team has been critical to success. The leadership works to maintain transparency and inspire trust in the community.

“We position ourselves to have a certain level of trust, sharing information about where we are and our future plans, engaging employees, community leaders and other constituents about where we should go,” he said. “We want to truly reflect the community, not just the management team.”

The health system also embraces a patient-focused care model, providing boutique services and individualized care.

“We are trying to differentiate ourselves in a competitive market,” Baker said. “We can’t always compete in terms of services because we don’t have the size or volume of some surrounding health systems. So we focus on providing personalized care that larger organizations may not be able to offer.”

-by Patricia Chaney

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

drshmo. July 20, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Its funny that doctors don’t get paid nearly what hospital presidents make. Doctors actually have to work sometimes too. Oh wait going out to a lunch meeting is work I guess.

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