Medical Group focuses on patient satisfaction, efficiency

Medical Group focuses on patient satisfaction, efficiency

Smyrna Health and Wellness Center
Employed physician groups play an important role in Christiana Care's emphasis on customer satisfaction and efficiency, safety and care. The Medical Group of Christiana Care operates practices throughout the region, including the Smyrna Family Practice at the Health and Wellness Center in Smyrna, Del.

At the Medical Group of Christiana Care, doctors have different specialties and varying levels of experience, but a single cohesive culture. Owned by Christiana Care Health System, the Medical Group is part of a sweeping, dynamic vision for care that is excellent, consistent, convenient and cost effective.

“We work together as a multispecialty group that utilizes best practices and measurable results to deliver safe, accessible, quality, health care to patients,” says Alan Greenglass, M.D., senior vice president and medical director of the Medical Group.

A growing trend, employed physician groups are an important part of health care’s evolution into a service that is focused on customer satisfaction and efficiency, in addition to safety and care. Of the 1,400 doctors who practice at Christiana Care, 300 are employed by the health system. About 150 physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are involved directly in the care of patients.

In addition to 16 primary care practices, there are a number of specialties under the Medical Group umbrella. They include: dermatology, eye care, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, rheumatology and urogynecology.

The Medical Group also encompasses the Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, Christiana Care Hospitalist Partners, the Delaware Center for Fetal & Maternal Medicine, HIV/AIDS care, a kidney transplant program and Surgical & Critical Care Specialists, the state’s only Level 1 trauma center.

The HealthCare Center at Christiana, across the street from the Christiana Hospital campus, provides ready access to doctors’ offices, a pharmacy, radiology and physical therapy. “The practice is very convenient for the patient,” says Medical Group executive director Robert Bycer.

In a time of reduced fees for Medicare and other reforms, administrating a practice is proving increasingly cumbersome for many care providers. The number of doctor searches for hospital employment doubled from 23 percent in 2005 to 56 percent in 2010, according to Merritt Hawkins, a physician job search firm. According to an Accenture study, the rate of hospital-employed physicians will grow by 5 percent each year during the next three years.

Christiana Care acquired its first practice, a medical group in Salem County, N.J., in the early 1990s. But it wasn’t until 2005 that a strategy for a group practice model began to take shape. In addition to salary, Medical Group benefits include paid vacation, health insurance, a generous retirement plan and a week each year for continuing medical education. There also are rich opportunities to collaborate and contribute to a shared vision.

“They’ve made a conscious decision to become part of a larger organization,” Bycer says. “We’re not in our silos any more.”

The Medical Group also provides clear expectations for both providers and their patients, who can count on regular office hours and standardized operations. An operating council meets monthly to share concerns and ideas.

“Providers and patients benefit from consistency in billing and other procedures,” Dr. Greenglass says. “The same rules apply in Middletown as in New Castle.” With practices located in Delaware, Pennsylvania and South Jersey, patients have greater flexibility. Because providers in the Medical Group share access to electronic health records, it is easier for doctors to collaborate. Tests and other procedures aren’t duplicated.

“If you can’t get to your doctor in Hockessin, the doctor in Smyrna has access to your records,” Bycer says. “He can take care of you then report back to your regular doctor.”