Editor’s Note: After this story published, Sound Physicians reversed its decision, saying it will not implement this model at Memorial University Medical Center.
Sound Physicians, a firm that provides staffing services to healthcare organizations, has begun restructuring its practice model at a Georgia hospital.
The Tacoma, Washington-based firm — which was acquired by UnitedHealth’s Optum division and private equity firm Summit Partners for some $2 billion back in 2018 — serves as the hospitalist team working with Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. Starting August 3, Sound Physicians will use its advanced practice providers (APPs) as day rounding providers, a chief hospitalist at the company wrote in a letter addressed to colleagues at the hospital that was shared with MedPage Today.
“They [APPs] will be working in a collaborative dyad team with a physician, [but] the APP will be the primary provider taking care of a subset of our patients,” the letter reads. “Any communications regarding the patients assigned to these APPs should be directed to the PA or NP, rather than the physician.”
For some physicians, the latter statement was enough to illicit worry that inefficiencies could build up in the care chain, and that any potential cost savings in the short-term could lead to quality issues, such as poorer patient outcomes and delayed surgeries down the line.
For its part, Sound Physicians told MedPage Today in an email that the transition is not a replacement of physicians with PAs and NPs, and that no physicians are being displaced.
“Our team at Memorial University Medical Center has always included physicians and advance practice providers working together to deliver outstanding care to our patients,” the company said. “In all cases, our advanced practice providers are supervised by and/or collaborating with physicians according to local hospital bylaws, state board guidelines, and national standards.”
As for what is driving the transition, Sound Physicians said that care team models are used nationally in acute care facilities as well as in other healthcare settings and medical specialities. It said such teams focus on “clinically appropriate, timely, and efficient care.”
Memorial University Medical Center, which is owned by HCA Healthcare, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last Updated July 23, 2021
Jennifer Henderson joined MedPage Today as an enterprise and investigative writer in Jan. 2021. She has covered the healthcare industry in NYC, life sciences and the business of law, among other areas.