You might be scratching your head at the acronym in the title above. Don’t worry. If you understand the axiom preceding it, you’ll have no problem with the concept of a “Clinically Integrated Network” (CIN), or why joining one may benefit your practice in a big way. The health insurance marketplace continues to be fluid. The need for private practices to expand their patient base and meet new market demands is increasing. Patients populations are managed and billed based on individual conditions or health statuses. Never before has there been such an emphasis efficiency, and expansion.
For independent practices, joining a CIN, or “super group” as they are commonly known, can help drastically improve their quality of care. Members can invest in care coordination and information technology, and seamlessly share healthcare data so that it can be properly tracked and used. Is your practice struggling? Would making such a commitment turn the tide for you?
What is a CIN, again?
That’s CIN, not SIN… Put simply, a clinically integrated network is a selective, interdependent group of practices who invest money and manpower to monitor various healthcare services, protect autonomy, increase efficiency, and keep operating costs manageable. This dynamic offers quality assurance, and is designed to help members fully realize their operating potentials.
Due to the changes in healthcare over the last several years, more and more people are seeking medical services. In previous posts, we touched upon how difficult the new influx of patient data is to manage and share. Newly defined coding standards and billing procedures have caused more than a few headaches, leaving practices scrambling to hire specialists and adapt to new technologies. Both have negatively affected individual care coordination, and pay-flow. Clinically integrated networks offer a good way for smaller independent practices to share these burdens with others.
How, and why?
Imagine if you could utilize multiple EHRs from multiple vendors to help manage patient data. As a member of a clinically integrated network, you can do just that. You may be wondering if with all this talk of “sharing” each member must practice medicine under the same standard guidelines. The simple answer is no.
Individual practices are referred to as “divisions” in this model. Each division’s “culture of care”, that is to say, how they practice day in and day out in their own office, is not changed. In terms of finances and income, divisions are able to retain a significant amount of their own earned profits. Being part of a large group also enables practices to take advantage of group purchasing discounts.
Beyond just discounts, CINs typically establish a “central business office.” This provides billing, collections, and other such services at a reduced cost for each division. We always talk up tech on this blog, and we know how expensive the latest practice management software and top-of-the-line EHRs can be. How can you offset the cost of acquiring and implementing them? You guessed it. The cost per division for these technologies will be offset because it is shared among so many providers. CINs can also negotiate better prices for various forms of training and support.
Stability, and sustainability
Small and mid-size practices can leverage their “CIN-status” in other important ways. Being part of a larger group means sharing in both the risks and the payoffs. CINs award divisions the financial wherewithal to participate in newer payment models, and share in the potential rewards.
Have great plans for your practice? Banks may look more favorably upon practices that are part of a larger group, ensuring better financing rates, while private investors looking to make money in healthcare may view an alliance with CINs as lucrative. They may wish to co-invest in what is a “joint venture MSO” (management services organization.). JVMSOs manage physician super-groups. They can help provide certain financial resources, allowing them to grow and increase their overall value.
Collaboration can be the key to staying in business for many independent practices going forward. It brings with it the benefit of bargaining power, keeps costs down, and ensures quality of care across the board. You share in successes and burdens, pool resources, and also retain the autonomy to practice the way you see fit. The most important thing to consider is that the road to a CIN is paved with lawyers, consultants, accountants, and many other figures. It is an intricate system that must be thoroughly fleshed out and agreed upon, benefitting everybody involved. All partnerships, large and small, must be totally symbiotic if they are to work and flourish against the odds.
| HCRC Staffing | Brian@hcrcstaffing.com | www.hcrcstaffing.com