HFPN Provides Answer for Troy Internal Medicine
The Troy Internal Medicine independent practice, which includes 20 primary care physicians, is now in the process of joining the HFPN. Making this shift was not initially in the practice’s strategic plan, but unforeseen (and now considered fortuitous) circumstance led to its decision to start the process of integrating the practice into the HFPN.
The unexpected situation occurred during the middle of 2021. Connected to another major health system in Southeast Michigan for three decades, the Troy Internal Medicine practice abruptly learned that it could no longer use that health system’s radiology services for CAT scans. After receiving this news, the group needed a quick solution.
Practice Administrator for Troy Internal Medicine Del Wirsu called on the HFPN to see if an answer could be found. It could. The following is a conversation with Del about Troy Internal Medicine and the HFPN:
Q. Can you please describe your connection to the HFPN before your team had this need?
A. “Our first interaction with Henry Ford was the (1A) vaccine clinic in January and February of 2021. That was when the HFPN reached out to community healthcare providers to offer them the COVID vaccine before it became generally available. Because we are an independent practice, we didn’t have a direct route to get the vaccine before the general public.
“As background, before that, we had a longtime affiliation with another hospital group. But our experience with that vaccine clinic and the Henry Ford Physician Network was just awesome. Between our employees and physicians who volunteered at the clinic, it was a great experience. We couldn’t find a way to get the COVID vaccines for our employees, the HFPN could, and they offered it to the 1A healthcare community in southeastern Michigan.”
Q. How did the HFPN know about Troy Internal Medicine?
A. “We are part of United Physicians, or UP – a larger Physician Organization that is part of the provider network for the GM ConnectedCare contract at Henry Ford. Dr. Michael Williams, the President and CEO of UP connected us with the HFPN. We were really struggling at that time, so when we received the offer to get vaccinated against COVID, we jumped on it. We also asked what we could do to help, so many of us volunteered at the 1A clinics. We were mimicking what the HFPN conveyed to us – to be the solution.
“Every time I think about what the HFPN and Henry Ford did two years ago, I just can’t believe it. They did what other places could not.”
Q. What happened most recently that prompted your practice to want to join the HFPN?
A. “We have a CAT scan machine and we contracted out radiology services from another organization. They wanted to end the contract; they had decided it wasn’t the way their organization was going to do business anymore. I needed a prompt solution to avoid any disruption in service to our patients, so I contacted (HFPN VP of Business Operations) Jane Thornhill immediately. I told her that we had intended to get more involved with Henry Ford but had procrastinated. We had already started the conversation of having our providers credentialed at Henry Ford hospitals, but we were not making it a priority at the time. But now we had a need.
“Jane didn’t hesitate. She put me in touch with (Henry Ford Health VP of Radiation Services) Cheryl Martin and we got the ball rolling. I think it’s important to note that part of our initial hesitation was because we were affiliated with another health system for so long – and many of our 20 doctors completed their residency there. So, you kind of feel obligated to stay with who you know. We are also very careful where we send our patients for specialty care. We pay close attention to our quality scores, cost and utilization. We wanted to avoid escalating the cost of care by sending patients to a place that is hospital-based with facility fees. But after the great experience with the vaccine clinic, we decided that we were fully ready to move forward with Henry Ford and the Physician Network.”
Q. Did you receive any pushback on pursing this radiology relationship with Henry Ford because it is hospital-based?
A. “That’s what’s kind of funny. I asked Dr. John Bonema, the president of Troy Internal Medicine, if he felt comfortable with me talking to Henry Ford about radiology services. He was enthusiastic about it and said yes because of the great radiology reputation Henry Ford has. We were very excited about having our CAT scans read by Henry Ford.”
Q. Do you feel like you’re part of Henry Ford now?
A. “I have to say, every person I have worked with at Henry Ford – starting with the HFPN and its Practice Transformation Specialists – has been very welcoming, very kind, very supportive. I have seen time and again that our goal of providing the best possible care for our patients is the same goal that everyone in the HFPN has.”
Q. Have you had any other experiences working with the expanded HFPN network of providers to benefit your patients?
A. “I just recently had a situation where one of our primary care docs needed their patient seen quickly by a neurosurgeon. Dr. Bonema wanted it to be a Henry Ford neurosurgeon. Well, Mary Ann Bartlett, the Director of Physician Development at Henry Ford West Bloomfield made this happen. Within five days the patient had a consult with a Henry Ford neurosurgeon. Quite honestly, I could not do that with another healthcare system today – even with the system I had a 30-year relationship. I just don’t have that access.”
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A. “I don’t want to make it sound like working with the HFPN and Henry Ford is all happy, happy, joy, joy. But I’m telling you, every contact I’ve had with Henry Ford is the same – very good. Just like Cheryl Martin in the radiology department – asking me how she can help me. The same goes with the HFPN asking how they can help me. It’s been a number of great experiences all around.”