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IU doc group becomes Eskenazi Medical

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A group of 123 doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants have formed the Eskenazi Medical Group in order to focus on maximizing patient care and performance-based bonuses at Wishard Health Services.

The county-owned hospital system announced the new structure on Thursday. The members of the new Eskenazi Medical Group, all of whom are part of the faculty at the Indiana University School of Medicine, were formerly part of the primary care unit of the IU Medical Group.

IU Medical Group had 189 physicians last year, according to IBJ research. The remaining physicians from that group—who tended to practice in medical offices affiliated with the IU Health hospital system—are joining IU Health Physicians.

IU Health Physicians is a physician joint venture of the IU med school and the IU Health hospital system. With more than 850 doctors, IU Health Physicians already is the largest medical practice in the Indianapolis area.

Wishard will retain all the primary care and hospitalist doctors who practice in its downtown hospital and its 10 community clinics. Dr. John Kunzer, interim CEO of Eskenazi Medical, said being affiliated with only one hospital system will help the new group focus on advancing the “medical home” concept for patients.

“We want to be involved in that model of care,” said Kunzer, noting that by helping address patients’ health issues both inside and outside the clinic setting, the medical home concept should be able to reduce unnecessary ER visits and expensive hospital stays.

That’s key for Wishard because two out of every five of its patients has no health insurance. So reducing the need for health care is crucial to the hospital’s financial health—and it’s good for its patients, too.

“There is absolutely a desire to have physicians engaged and involved in leadership roles in developing the model,” Kunzer added.

The physicians in Eskenazi Medical also are interested in achieving the best patient outcomes, because the federal Medicare program is promoting a shared savings model that would pay a percentage of any savings achieved by a physician group back to them as a bonus.

Other private health insurers have been launching or discussing similar programs. And Kunzer said Eskenazi Medical hopes to create similar arrangements with the Wishard Advantage health plan—run by Wishard Health Services. It accounts for 40 percent of Eskenazi Medical’s annual revenue.

“Medical groups across the country understand that primary care, in its current form, doesn’t pay the greatest,” Kunzer said. “By partnering with health systems, it just increases the medical groups' viability.”

Kunzer said Wishard is conducting a national search for a permanent CEO and expects to name one by summer. He is one of the candidates for the post.

Wishard will change its name to Eskenazi Health in 2014.

 

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