Noble Health Alliance: Physician Opportunity in Healthcare Reform
With the Accountable Care Act and other market forces driving the need for improved clinical coordination and lower cost, Crozer-Keystone Health System physicians were introduced to the Noble Health Alliance during meetings in May. Susan Williams, M.D., senior physician for Network Affairs and Clinical Integration, discussed Noble during meetings at Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Delaware County Memorial Hospital. Williams serves on the Physician Executive Council for Noble Health Alliance and is also its chief medical officer.
Noble Health Alliance “is a care model that promotes physician leadership in creating a clinically integrated network that will improve outcomes and lower cost, and it is also a business model that promotes physician participation in healthcare payment reform,” Williams said.
Crozer-Keystone Health System is a founding member of Noble Health Alliance, along with Abington Health, Aria Health, and the Einstein Healthcare Network. The Alliance allows its members to collaborate on responding to a healthcare model that rewards clinical quality and efficiency over volume of procedures or in-patient census. “Noble puts the patient at the center of care, with the patient supported by a clinically integrated physician network,” Dr. Williams said.
The Noble Health Alliance Physician Network will include physicians employed by the member health systems, along with independent affiliated doctors who sign up. The Network will form the foundation of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), to focus first on providing care to the 39,000 employees and dependents within the Alliance’s four member health systems. A physician Clinical Quality Committee will oversee decisions about clinical integration and the use of evidenced-based medicine as part of the ACO. Another critical early focus: identifying the information systems infrastructure necessary for quality and cost data reporting and analysis. “Here, too,” Williams said, “our physicians will be called upon to provide leadership.”
As the Alliance develops its clinical integration model and demonstrates greater efficiency and lower cost, it will promote the physician network to larger employers. The Alliance is also actively talking with insurers to jointly develop products that can expand the number of patients and communities served by Alliance physicians and hospitals.
The Alliance is structured to provide physicians with a meaningful voice in leadership. The Physician Executive Council is chaired by Williams and also includes Steven Sivak, M.D., chairman of the Department of Medicine at Einstein Healthcare Network; Harry Emmerich, D.O., medical director of Aria Health Physician Services; and Keith Sweigard, M.D., medical director of Abington Health Physicians. In addition to the Clinical Quality Committee, a Membership Committee was formed. Williams sits on the Noble board, and early steps to develop a separate physician board are also underway. “The central role of physicians in Noble Health Alliance is an important distinction from earlier efforts to improve quality and cost, which were often driven by parties not directly involved in patient care,” Williams said.