Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic have launched efforts to expand their affiliations with outside physician practices, American Medical News reports.
Rather than acquire physician practices, the health care systems will expand their network by asking practices to pay subscription fees and meet certain clinical requirements. In exchange, those practices can use the systems' names and resources. The Mayo and Cleveland Clinic—which announced their initiatives separately and have not yet partnered with any practices—say they would consider physician groups of all sizes, but prefer medium to large single-specialty groups. According to American Medical News, the groups already may be affiliated with other institutions.
According to the medical director of Mayo's affiliated practice network, "The whole point for us is to grow strong relationships with other health care groups, other health care systems, that are of a similar mindset in terms of caring for the patient." Both systems say that increasing referrals are not a stated goal of the affiliations. "We hope they think of us first, but we don't require that," Cleveland Clinic's chair of business operations said.
Health experts note that such affiliations are a creative way for the large systems to capitalize on consolidation and alignment trends in the U.S. health care system. Analysts say the strategy allows them to broaden their reach into outpatient care as patient volumes and revenues shrink (Stagg Elliott,American Medical News, 8/29; Wicklund, Healthcare Finance News, 8/29).