A physician-sponsored network (PSN) is a business entity organized and owned by a network of independent physician practices for the purpose of pursuing business ventures such as contracts with managed care organizations. There may be substantial opportunity for innovation in delivery system modeling and benefit design in the creation of physician networks. Specifically, creation of practice networks involving Patient Centered Medical Home practices may accelerate important and necessary changes in health care delivery.
The core business of family physicians is managing the care of patients. Patients value their relationship with their personal physician above any other in the system. This relationship makes physicians an indispensable resource in the health care system and provides them in the marketplace. Physicians are exercising their market leverage through a variety of contracting and affiliation strategies which allow a group of physicians to speak with one voice. Such strategies also enhance physicians' access to the capital and management resources necessary to pursue cooperative business ventures such as managed care contracts and direct health care services contracts with employers.
Purchasers of health care services are more likely to sign contracts with larger groups of physicians who can provide comprehensive services within a specialty or in a specific geographic area and demonstrate high quality outcomes, assume risk and can provide unique, innovative or collaborative health care services. These services include comprehensive care of chronic medical conditions that benefit from collaboration among multiple entities such as specialty practices, imagining centers, home health agencies, and hospital systems. Such networks have and will likely continue to develop with different presence in different markets. Those PSNs capable of controlling medical expense for large numbers of patients and assuming full risk capitation can exercise maximal control in the current environment. Partial risk sharing, however, is more likely to be available to many PSNs. Optimally functioning PSNs can offer many potential benefits, including:
Physicians considering the development of, or participation in, a PSN should be aware of the potential risks. This is especially true when the PSN accepts significant risk for healthcare expenditures. These risks include:
The American Academy of Family Physicians believes that physicians contemplating the development of, or participation in, a PSN should consider the following guiding principles:
(1998) (2010 COD)
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