Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Joe Carl­son

NORMAN, Okla.— The Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion be­stowed a rare ap­proval on a pro­posed ar­range­ment be­tween a large group of Ok­la­homa doc­tors and a lo­cal hospi­tal, even though peo­ple in­volved with the new net­work ad­mit that they plan to raise some prices. In a 21-page ad­vi­sory opin­ion, FTC As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor Markus Meier wrote that the in­te­grated net­work’s po­ten­tial ben­e­fits to pa­tients, providers and pay­ers seemed to out­weigh its risks. The con­clu­sion came de­spite the fact that pro­po­nents of the new ar­range­ment can­not yet quan­tify the eco­nomic ben­e­fits. That’s be­cause the pub­licly owned Norman Re­gional Health Sys­tem and the in­de­pen­dent, 280-doc­tor Norman Physi­cians As­so­ci­a­tion promised to use health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tems and

physi­cian com­mit­tees to vig­or­ously push for ef­fi­cien­cies be­tween physi­cian and hospi­tal care. The net­work would cre­ate trans­parency in busi­ness deal­ings and ac­tively mon­i­tor for prob­lems in the newly in­te­grated Norman Physi­cian Hospi­tal Or­ga­ni­za­tion, ac­cord­ing to an FTC fil­ing. In par­tic­u­lar, the anal­y­sis noted that the new ar­range­ment in­cludes ex­plicit prom­ises that the in­te­grated or­ga­ni­za­tion will be nonex­clu­sive and will not pro­hibit pri­vate in­surance com­pa­nies from strik­ing deals with doc­tors who refuse to join the new net­work. At the heart of the new ar­range­ment is a model sim­i­lar to an ac­count­able care or­ga­ni­za­tion, in which physi­cians and an acute-care hospi­tal will work to­gether on a com­mon IT net­work to co­or­di­nate pa­tient care and treat­ment plans and de­velop com­mon ev­i­dence-based care guide­lines.

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