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April 2008 Issue

College of Medicine Dean and Vice President for Health Affairs David Stern, MD
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UC Physicians to Transform Faculty Clinical Practices

By Jill Hafner
Published April 2008

UC Physicians (UCP) has embarked on an effort to create a more integrated management model for the 500-member faculty group practice.

“While we have been an effective faculty practice, the time is right to refine and improve our organization to further enhance our delivery of quality patient care,” says David Stern, dean of the College of Medicine, vice president of health affairs at UC and president and chairman of the board of UCP.

The effort has been dubbed the UC Physicians Re-engineering Project.

Dozens of faculty and staff members from the practices and the College of Medicine have been working on the venture. Stern and Dan Gahl, chief executive officer of UC Physicians, are leading the effort with Thomas Boat, MD, executive associate dean of the college, who is also intimately involved.

On Feb. 28, a critical step was taken when the UCP board voted unanimously to start down the pathway to merging the 15 clinical practice corporations that comprise the College of Medicine’s faculty practices into a single nonprofit tax-exempt corporation.

“The board’s approval was taken following an extended discussion in which a mood of cautious optimism prevailed,” Stern says. “Optimism because of the clear advantages of consolidation/centralization for clinical practice and financial management, and caution because of the challenges which these changes entail.”

Last year, a comprehensive review of UCP was conducted by ECG Management Consultants, Inc., one of the country’s foremost health care consulting firms. The review led to the Re-engineering Project.

“The major goals of this effort are to develop a clinical practice with shared and centralized services to improve patient care and overall operations, allow for greater integration of strategies, enhance cooperation and collaboration, and improve patient access to specialties and services,” Gahl says.

Stern notes that there are many advantages to creating a single
corporation. Among these are joint managed care contracting; improved and more efficient financial performance; greater ability to finance large projects at lower capital costs; consistent best practices, standards and guidelines throughout the organization; and a single point of interaction with potential external partners.

“Our objective is to create the best possible physician practice delivering the highest quality care to our patients and making us an employer and caregiver of choice,” Gahl says.

Ten working committees have been formed involving more than 80 participants, with the leaders of each group and UCP leadership forming a Project Management Team. These committees are:

  • Finance and Accounting
  • Clinical Practice Operations
  • Governance
  • Faculty Compensation
  • Marketing
  • Compliance/Risk Management
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
  • Communications
  • Clinical Standards

“Significant work lies ahead of us to complete this effort. Much due diligence is required to ensure that we proceed through this substantial process effectively and accurately,” Stern adds. “Let us reassure you that this is a monumental moment in the practice’s history. We will do this carefully and with our physician leadership engaged at every point.

“The work has just begun. The largest tasks remain ahead, but we are delighted to be moving forward in a manner which should provide a better work environment for our physicians and enhanced care for our patients.”

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