Katie Kwon, M.D.
Lake Michigan Nephrology
As a small practice, my partner and I value our independence, but realized we wouldn’t remain viable in the future if we didn’t pay attention to two significant market pressures.
The first was the healthcare system consolidation taking place all around us. We are still a small independent nephrology practice, yet we were quickly becoming a smaller fish in a big, growing pond. Our local hospital merged with a larger hospital two years ago in Western Michigan, and recently merged with an even larger system on the other side of the state.
Another market pressure we’re facing is value-based care. We’d look at data reports, but we didn’t know how to interpret them. Our EMR has a primary care focus, and we didn’t have a way to track the metrics that are important to nephrologists. I saw value in data analytics but lacked the time and resources to really put the data to good use.
Given those market changes, we started reviewing our options to partner with value-based care companies. I really started seeing an analogy to the nephrology situationfrom 30-40 years ago. At that time, if you founded and built dialysis units, you did quite well. But what happened over time was market consolidation and bigger companies buying those units. Today most dialysis centers are run by two companies and nephrologists are paid contractors. Frankly, the specialty failed back then. We failed to keep the value that we as nephrologists created. Today we face a rare second golden opportunity of our specialty with new technologies and new payment models.
I hope we get it right this time! I first learned about GNS and its capabilities shortly after meeting Dr. Poduval a few years ago and I loved his idea of a physician-led organization and the autonomy offered through that model. GNS understands we are the key—giving us flexibility to meet patient-centeredgoals regarding dialysis and slowingprogression of the disease, which dovetails beautifully with new tools and medicines.
We should be taking risks, owning value based care as physicians for our patients, and not letting a separate company own our work.
GNS focuses on keeping nephrologists with patients at the center and not just siphoning off value. Over the next 18-24 months, this is it—our chance to get it right! We shouldn’t let that value and risk go to non-nephrologists. We could find ourselves hitting buttons on more and more electronic forms while we generatevalue for private equity companies.
What’s encouraging is that value-based care is getting smarter. We can use the tools make sense for our patients and our steps or suggestions aren’t limited. GNS recognizes that – we know what we do, and we know what our patients here in West Michigan need. It’s up to us. GNS provides the tools for us to succeed rather than saying, “Here’s an algorithm and you’ll make reports and make this happen.”
In short, the fact that GNS is physician owned and led is huge! Whether I’m talking growth of patients, financial analysis, best practices of care, …I’m talking to other doctors, my peer group. I’m talking to someone who understands and has patients. One hundred percent nephrologists—that’s a hard win and a huge deciding factor.
I would advise other nephrologists to recognize that value-based care will continue to change and grow. So, don’t focus on the CKCC model so much…but rather, what is the partnership that will position not just value-based care participation for the next five years, but also strengthen and grow your practice? Will you be farther along when CKCC comes to an end? Find a partner focused on the long-term health of your practice and how you will serve your community both today and in the future.