Characterisitcs of High Quality Clinics

In his healthcare speech, President Obama cited Intermountain Healthcare in Utah and the Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania as two healthcare organizations that offer high-quality care at costs below average.  In Medicare’s Physician Group Practice demonstration project, Forsyth Medical Group in North Carolina and St. John’s Health System in Missouri were able to meet all quality benchmarks.  The Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin and University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice were able to create significant cost savings in this demonstration. The question remains, what characteristics define a high quality clinic?

This chart describes the characteristics of the 10 large physician groups that participated in the CMS demonstration.  We observe that high-quality, low-cost clinics can arise from a number of different organizational forms for instance.

  • Integrated Delivery System: Geisinger, St. John’s, Forsyth and the UM Faculty Group practice are part of an integrated system, but the Marshfield Clinic is not.
  • Includes an Academic Medical Center.  Of the above five clinics, only the University of Michigan clinic includes an academic medical center.
  • Owns an HMO: Of the above five clinics, only the Forsyth Medical Group does not own an HMO.
  • Not-for-profit: Geisinger, St. John’s, Forsyth, the UM Faculty Group, and the Marshfield clinic are all not for profit.
  • Number of Providers: The number of providers in this large group practice demonstration ranges from 200 over 1200.

Analyzing only these five clinics, one can observe that a diverse range of clinic types can provide high quality care.

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