Last month, Orlando Health Physician Associates, one of the largest multi-specialty healthcare groups in Central Florida, acquired Pediatric Associates of Orlando. Pediatric Associates is the second healthcare group in the past three years acquired by Orlando Health, a $2.1 billion not-for-profit health care organization and a community-based network of physician practices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers throughout Central Florida. Physician Associates, founded in 1984, was acquired by Orlando Health in January 2013.
By partnering with Orlando Health, Gregory Gordon, MD, of Pediatric Associates said that his practice has taken an important step to ensure it meets the needs of its growing practice.
"We have always been tightly associated with Orlando Health," he said. "I don't think it's a big surprise in the medical community that we eventually aligned with Orlando Health in a more formal way. But this will allow us to continue to provide better care for our patients and I'm hopeful we can also become leaders within Physician Associates to create a strong pediatric network in Orlando."
One of the advantages to this acquisition for Dennis Buhring, president of Orlando Health Physician Associates, was the addition of 10 board-certified pediatricians and two additional offices that can greatly aid in the care that it provides to the community.
"That's a tremendous benefit," he said, adding that it is imperative that healthcare systems work together and bring services right into the communities it serves.
"Pediatric Associates began operations in Orlando in 1939," Buhring said. "They are an excellent medical group with an outstanding reputation for quality. We have a goal to build an integrated delivery system with great partners such as Pediatric Associates. One of the things that Orlando Health and Pediatric Associates share is the same medical culture, where the focus is providing high quality care to patients."
Improved access to capital and technology were also some of the reasons behind the merger. Gordon noted that Pediatric Associates has had a difficult time hiring new physicians over the last several years because salary expectations and benefits packages were unable to meet the standards that have developed over that time.
"This will give us an even playing field and allow us to hire and continue the excellent tradition of Pediatric Associates," Gordon added.
Due to a lack of funding devoted to new technology, the practice has been unable to adopt electronic medical records and patient registries. The acquisition by Orlando Health Physician Associates now gives them access to the latest technological advances, as well as ample time for training on EMR technology.
"We have fallen behind," said Gordon. "In an age where insurance companies are asking us to not only perform good care but prove it through digital performance metrics, we know we have some catching up to do and Physician Associates is clearly the local leader in healthcare technology."
Buhring cited access to this technology as one of Orlando Health's key competitive advantages.
"We are really blessed to have outstanding medical care in our community," he said. "Physician Associates was also fortunate to have joined Orlando Health because of their willingness to make investments in technology. That helped us and this will help Pediatric Associates as well."
For example, over the last two years, Buhring said Orlando Health Physician Associates was able to build an extensive patient platform, gathering information on the cost of care and the quality of care being rendered.
"With this data, we can access patient data and merge it in with evidence-based medical guidelines that can highlight possible gaps in care, such as patients who have missed physicals and mammograms, or who may have uncontrolled high blood pressure," he said. "That information, and the merger of all this patient data, really enhances the practice of medicine and gaps in medical care can be closed, thus improving quality. At Physician Associates, we manage the care of the patient at the point of care and also through outreach, in-between appointments."
For patients of Pediatric Associates, there are no detectible changes. Patients' doctors, offices, benefits, co- pays, or other out-of-pocket expenses remain the same. Pediatric Associates physicians will continue to see patients in their Orlando location at 414 North Mills Avenue and at their Ocoee/Windermere offices at 2920 Maguire Road in Ocoee.
Since becoming a part of the Orlando Health system two years ago, Buhring said Physician Associates has achieved tremendous success and continued growth and expects the same for Pediatric Associates.
"Our quality scores for our CMS ACO have improved to 93 percent and for the other commercial ACO's our costs of care compared to our community is equal to or better," said Buhring. "In fact, for the CMS ACO, we now rank as one of the three ACOs that achieved high scores for quality and earned shared savings in the State of Florida. We were also one of just 17 ACOs nationally that achieved high quality scores and achieved shared savings. Finally, in 2013, Physician Associates received recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Level-3 Patient Centered Medical Home. So we're working hard to deliver higher quality at more efficient prices and we are looking forward to continued success with this dedicated team from Pediatric Associates."