Clinically-Integrated Networks Key to Access for Rural and Underserved Populations
States across the country are looking for solutions to recruiting and retaining physicians, particularly primary care doctors, in rural and underserved communities.
“Despite significant federal and state programs and resources,” says CCNC President and CEO Dr. Allen Dobson, “it’s hard to encourage physicians to settle in areas in which they are isolated from other practitioners, have limited access to specialists and hospitals, and must deal with the financial realities of caring for a high number of Medicaid and uninsured patients.”
“That problem is only going to get worse as small, rural practices struggle to keep the doors open without the bandwidth or time to deal with the complexities of reform,” said Dr. Dobson who recently spoke on the subject to Medicaid administrators in Oregon and Texas.
“One option,” Dr. Dobson said, “is to form a clinically-integrated network for independent practices.”
An organization that can address the medical isolation of rural providers and help them deal with the significant pressures of healthcare reform is essential, said Dr. Dobson, who described North Carolina’s physician-led Community Care Physician Network as an ideal model for meeting these goals.
CCPN is a statewide CIN with 2,158 clinicians, and nearly half of them are from rural counties. “Banding together gives them access to resources and services that can improve their practices and performance in the new value-based reimbursement marketplace,” Dr. Dobson said.
“Our goal is to help the independent physician deal with the significant pressures of healthcare reform,” added Dr. Dobson, who chairs the CCPN Board of Managers.
“Clearly, the main objective is to help ensure that folks have access to affordable, quality healthcare,” Dr. Dobson said. “You can’t achieve that if your community’s only physician shuts his or her door and moves away. You lose that access to care and your community loses an important piece of its economic infrastructure.”