After succeeding in New Jersey with its ‘let doctors be doctors’ philosophy, one healthcare provider group is expanding into Arizona in hopes of being the first major physician-led medical group operating in the state.
Summit Health Management partnered with Arizona Primary Care Physicians to create Summit Medical Group Arizona, a multi-specialty medical group that consists of 51 Arizona-based physicians. The partnership will officially begin at the beginning of next year.
Summit’s model of letting “doctors be doctors” provides administrative support and infrastructure in an effort to let doctors focus on what they do best, treating patients, instead of worrying about administrative duties and associated regulations.
Dr. Brian Riveland, chief physician executive at Summit Medical Group Arizona, says that if healthcare’s regulatory environment were to solely fall on the doctor, then doctors wouldn’t have time to treat patients.
“The goal is to pull that stuff as much as possible away from the doctors, provide the support and services around doctors, allow them to practice to the maximum of their licensure, and then again, really focusing on taking care of that patient sitting in front of them,” Riveland says.
Since Arizona is the fifth largest medical market in the country, and there are still many small doctor practices operating within the state, Summit’s model would be a good fit for both patients and doctors, Riveland says.
Riveland mentions that many doctors who are tired of the amount of administrative work tend to either retire early, or join hospital systems or large insurer owned medical groups. Summit is an alternative to those other options, he says.
And hospitals have been buying up doctor’s practices in mass over the past few years. It’s such a trend, the New England Journal of Medicine states in a 2011 article that more than half of practicing U.S. physicians are now employed by hospitals or integrated delivery systems.
Most recently, Banner Health has been buying both doctor’s practices and urgent care facilities around the state.
Summit Medical Group Arizona will provide a variety of services to local patients such as lab, radiology, same day care and urgent care. The Summit system works to provide highly coordinated care between these practices, Riveland says, in order to ensure there aren’t any gaps in care for patients.
As a physician-owned and governed multi-specialty medical group, Summit hopes to provide a cultural alternative for doctors and their patients in Arizona, says Keith Dines, the former CEO of Arizona Primary Care Physicians.
Dines, who is now the senior strategic advisor for Summit Health Management, believes creating this type of environment, where doctors really focus in on the patient instead of administrative work, creates better outcomes for the patient too.
“When providers are happy, when staff is happy, and it’s an organization people feel comfortable with, culturally, to me, it does nothing but improves the quality of care we’re bringing to our patients,” Dines says.