East End docs form link to share patient data and cut costs

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Dr. Scott Sheren

The East End Health Alliance — a group comprising three East End hospitals — has begotten a new physicians network known as Physician Hospital Organization that could bring better coordination of patient care to the area, Dr. Scott Sheren of East End Eye Associates announced last week.

Dr. Sheren is leading the effort to enlist East End physicians in sharing patient information and seeking guidance on treatment options for various conditions. About 65 of the 180 to 200 doctors practicing on the East End have signed onto the Physician Hospital Organization (PHO). Dr. Sheren expressed optimism that most area doctors will participate once the system is up and running.

The PHO is part of the response to federal health care reform, Dr. Sheren said during a press conference last Thursday at Peconic Bay Medical Center.

“The East End PHO will position its health care providers to respond to anticipated changes in the delivery of health care and the challenges to work corroboratively that will follow from health care reform,” said alliance chairwoman Carole Donlin.
In line with health care reform, there will be an emphasis on patient outcomes, she said.

A $500,000 federal grant provided funding for the fledgling effort that’s designed to improve the delivery of health care while keeping a lid on costs, Dr. Sheren said.

Using a system called Medventive, doctors will be able to share information with one other so the primary care physician and all specialists will have full information about how each patient is being treated. They’ll also have access to protocol for various treatments, but none of that protocol is mandated, Dr. Sheren said. Each physician will retain the authority to determine appropriate treatment based on the specifics of each patient’s needs, he said.

“This is not cookbook medicine,” Dr. Sheren said.

Although the network will offer treatment guidelines, he added, that doesn’t mean all patients with a specific illness will be treated the same way.

He predicted that the sharing of information will result in better outcomes, fewer duplications of tests and costs and runarounds for patients who tend to see a number of different doctors.

The program was envisioned from the day the East End Health Alliance first formed almost four years ago, according to alliance vice chairman Robert Goodale, who is co-chairman with Dr. Sheren of the East End PHO. He and Dr. Sheren and others have been working hard over the last 18 months to roll out the PHO, he said.

An initial emphasis will be on coordination of treatment for diabetics, but as the system develops, it will apply to treatments of other conditions, he said. The  PHO emphasis is on wellness, preventive care, patient education and alternative modalities for treating various conditions, Dr. Sheren said.

Physicians’ committees will provide oversight and guidance in the development and use of the system, he said.

In the course of his campaigning for the PHO, Dr. Sheren acknowledged running into only four doctors who resisted the idea and only one whose office doesn’t file health claims electronically, he said.

Some doctors held off signing onto the PHO to await signs that the system is what Dr. Sheren and other organizers promise it will be. Each participating doctor pays a $2,500 fee to join and participating hospitals will be paying an equal amount for each participating physician.

That cost will be a “burden” on the hospitals, Mr. Goodale said, but he predicted that it would prove to be “a good investment.”

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