Health Inventures: Dr. Chuck Peck, CEO

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Coordinated care and physician employment are trends across all healthcare organizations. With the future of healthcare reform uncertain, hospitals, physician practices, and other healthcare entities are looking for ways to remain profitable and efficient no matter what comes their way.

Health Inventures is positioned to help organizations adapt to changes, particularly through managing physician relationships, productivity, and human-resource issues.

Currently, Health Inventures is primarily involved in ambulatory surgery centers, serving as consultants to 30 centers, but the group also has two surgical subspecialty hospitals and provides service in physician practice management and inpatient perioperative management. The company’s primary goal is to help manage physician relationships, but it also helps organizations with supply-chain management, productivity, and employee management solutions.

“We have a physician-hospital joint-venture model, which is different than the traditional equity-based model,” said Dr. Chuck Peck, chief executive officer. “We provide a longer-term partnership where we put hospitals and physicians together in joint ventures that are mutually beneficial.”

Many hospitals struggle with how to manage relationships with employed physicians and between employed and private physicians. Health Inventures works with hospitals or other organizations to manage those relationships and ensure that both parties remain successful and have a long-term relationship.

“No matter what reform ends up bringing, the only way our current system will improve is if all people providing care — physicians, nurses, patients, administrators — are all in this together,” Peck said. “The fragmentation of business in this industry is probably one of the main reasons it’s in the shape it’s in. The culture of medicine is changing, and providers are thinking about relationships and who their partners should be.”

A new way of doing business

Peck said one challenge Health Inventures faces is when talking to many hospitals or ambulatory surgery centers that are cash-strapped and looking for someone who can bring cash to the table.

Health Inventures has a small equity stake in about 20 percent of the ambulatory surgery centers it works with, but the company does not follow the equity model, which provides a short-term solution. Peck said he is more interested in helping organizations develop a culture of partnerships, where the primary stakeholders are hospital personnel and physicians, to provide a long-term solution.

Peck said that about 15 percent of the ambulatory surgery centers are managed by professional organizations. Most are owned by physicians, and many are looking at how they will continue to provide service in the future. The ability to demonstrate quality data is a growing demand across all of healthcare, and ambulatory surgery centers are beginning to track more, but data is still a little behind that of most hospitals. With increasing care coordination and demands to do more with less, hospitals may own or partner with these centers.

“In the future, I don’t think hospitals are going to look at inpatient surgery and outpatient surgery as separate service lines, but at the whole product line, including what happens to patients when they are out of the hospital,” Peck said. “That will require hospitals to be connected to everyone who touches the patient. Health Inventures is positioned to help hospitals manage relationships with physicians in acquisitions or other arrangements.”

A shift to outpatient surgery

Another shift in the healthcare business that Peck sees is more emphasis on outpatient surgery. Surgery provides the highest revenue for hospitals, but many procedures that can safely be done in an ambulatory surgery center are still done on a costlier inpatient basis. Once reimbursements decrease or payment becomes based on performance, hospitals are more likely to provide those services in a less expensive outpatient setting.

“The shift in how care is provided will be driven by money, and I think we will see a shift toward outpatient care more than we’ve seen recently,” Peck said. “How people are reimbursed is what will really drive people to examine safety and quality data for providing surgical services in an outpatient setting.”

Overall, the future of healthcare will require clinical integration between hospitals and physicians, which Health Inventures is well-positioned to continue providing.

“Care coordination among all parties is critical if we are going to reduce readmissions and improve safety,” Peck said.

Integrated electronic medical records are also critical to keeping all parties involved in caring for a patient informed.

With all of these changes, Peck sees Health Inventures as being a major player in the surgical service-line arena. He anticipates the company growing and expanding resources to help surgery centers and hospitals meet the new demands and adapt their cultures to the future of healthcare delivery.

-by Patricia Chaney

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