September 20, 1996

Networking key component of VUMC’s growth strategy

Networking key component of VUMC's growth strategy

In the era of managed care, relationships among physicians and hospitals across Middle Tennessee have become increasingly important for all providers.

These relationships, or networks, are an equally important component of VUMC's strategy for thriving in today's rapidly evolving and sometimes volatile health care market. The creation and integration of geographically dispersed primary and specialty care programs can permit the development of strengthened patient care in local communities and also make use of VUMC's unique strengths.

As managed care continues to grow, network relationships with outlying physicians and other hospitals is crucial if VUMC is to be an important anchor in an integrated regional delivery system, and thereby make use of VUMC's broad range of services, said Dr. James K. Geraughty, associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

"You can either react to the market and always be a step behind, or you can take a leadership position. Being a leader is the more difficult task, but it's the preferable one because you have more control over your destination.

"That's what we are doing with our networking and managed care strategies – affiliating and collaborating with regional health care entities in new ways to strengthen them and us in the region. The institution's overall mission, however, is still the same: research, education and patient care," Geraughty said.

VUMC's networking strategy is taking shape, as recent deals with Midsouth Independent Practice Association and Franklin-based MedCore Medical Group illustrate. Broken down into its component parts, this networking strategy consists of:

€ Affiliating with physician practices as necessary to provide adequate regional access to VUMC's specialty services at home or away,

€ Maintaining and strengthening informal physician referral relationships and implementing appropriate promotional activities,

€ Establishing telemedicine links with select hospitals and/or physicians located outside VUMC's core service area,

€ Expanding contractual affiliation relationships with other hospitals and health care organizations in Middle Tennessee, southern Kentucky and northern Alabama,

€ Affiliating with, building or buying ambulatory care centers at strategically located sites.

"We are redefining a lot of the things that health care systems can do," Geraughty said. "The Midsouth Independent Practice Association relationship is an example of that. Instead of buying the assets of a practice, which is what is usually done, we decided to work collaboratively. It's an arrangement that works because of what VUMC is and because we are unique in the region in what we can offer to patients."

During the last few months, several networking programs have been launched, including the signing of affiliation agreements with four different hospitals and the establishment of clinical sites in Gallatin, Shelbyville and Green Hills. Others are under way.

The hospitals which have become affiliated with VUMC are Clarksville Memorial Hospital, Sumner Regional Medical Center in Gallatin, Bedford County General Hospital in Shelbyville and Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville.

Other recent networking agreements include:

€ An affiliation agreement between VUMC and McKendree Village Inc., a 600-resident continuing care retirement community in Hermitage.

The agreement will offer on-site service and training opportunities to the medical center's faculty, staff, and medical, nursing and allied health students.

The non-exclusive agreement – which enables VUMC and McKendree Village to provide each other with consultative, management, administrative and clinical services – will enhance both institutions' ability to work together in providing services, education, training and research participation for the elderly.

€ The Middle Tennessee Health Care Group – the venture of VUMC, Saint Thomas and Baptist hospitals – recently built a primary care center in Dickson. That facility joins the group's family practice centers in Hendersonville and Ashland City.

€ Primary Care Services at Madison, the third-community-based nurse-practitioner-operated clinic of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, recently opened its doors in the Madison Square Shopping Center on Gallatin Road.

€ An affiliation agreement with Nashville-based Midsouth Independent Practice Association Inc. The agreement gives VUMC a partnership with Midsouth's 254 primary care and specialist physicians in counties surrounding Nashville and includes a strong education component that will provide training opportunities for medical students.

Under terms of the agreement, VUMC and Midsouth will consult and negotiate on future managed care agreements.

€ VUMC has agreed to acquire MedCore Medical Group, an 11-member physician group practice located in Franklin. The acquisition increases Williamson County residents' access to VUMC's health care services and allows VUMC to expand its geographic coverage and augment its network of primary care physicians. VUMC will take over management responsibilities for the practice as well as assume ownership of the group's recently constructed Franklin walk-in clinic.

The new 15,000-square-foot center will serve as a satellite to the Vanderbilt-MedCore Medical Center adjacent to the Williamson County Medical Center in Franklin.

€ Neonatology services are now available through VUMC physicians at Williamson County Medical Center in Franklin and at Clarksville Memorial Hospital.

€ The Vanderbilt Medical Group at Brentwood opened in the Shiloh Building at 214 Centerview Drive in Brentwood. This clinic will be staffed by two physicians and will provide primary care services for patients.