CHICAGO—When building regional cardiovascular service lines, focus on cost, speed and quality, said Gregory D. Timmers, CEO of Prairie Cardiovascular, during a presentation June 7 at the 2nd annual MedAxiom Cardiovascular Service Line Symposium. However, when starting from the ground up, Timmers recommended mastering two goals and the third will come soon after.
Springfield, Ill.-based Prairie Cardiovascular employs 62 cardiovascular physicians who practice at 57 clinical locations across the state of Illinois. Three tertiary care centers—Prairie Heart Institute, St. John’s Hospital, Prairie Heart Institute of Southern Illinois and Prairie Heart Institute, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital—sit at the heart of the operation. At Prairie, physicians log 5,000 hours and 270,000 miles in travel time per year.
“What we have done is basically consider these tertiary campuses as locations where we can assimilate a critical mass of physicians with their expertise,” said Timmers. “When you have new campuses and nonhospital-based campuses, the tendency is to recruit a person on a fellowship at this location.”
However, Prairie learned that this is insufficient for developing a market and instead decided to bring expert leadership to new communities to build a program from scratch.
“The time and assurance of success is incredibly increased when you use this model,” Timmers added. For example, one new community program was able to capture 60 percent of the market share for PCI in three months.
Giving physicians the opportunity to plan and start a program has been well received. “We have moved away from the model to develop models from the ground up with people who are not part of our system and are fresh out of school,” Timmers said.
Prairie’s motto has been learn, be nimble and evolve. However, in the real-world setting the motto has transitioned into quality, cost and speed.
Timmers said to select only two of these goals when first starting a program. “If you pick any two, you are likely to be successful." While he added that it will be a tough decision, the third will come in time. “Get into these new markets, achieve two of these motivations and the third will come. This has changed our thought process, but it is very foreign at the beginning.”
Timmers said that professional service agreements have become a key element in the Prairie operation. He added that development of the health network has focused on three goals:
- Enhance community clinics and referral relationships;
- Enhance customer service and accessibility; and
- Increase brand awareness.
As these networks begin to pop up throughout the state, Timmers said that it is important to have a strong branding strategy. He added that franchises will be able to take on the Prairie logo, advertising and web content, among other resources.
“It is important to recognize that in healthcare, especially the future trend, groups are growing in size and trying to control a dense population,” Timmers said.