What doctor shortage?
Seen a headline warning of an impending “doctor shortage”? You don’t need to worry about that. ThedaCare’s providers are strategically placed throughout our hospitals and clinics so you get the care you need. Because we’re a system of healthcare providers, we put people in the right places. We use our size to fill gaps where needed, so your care remains close to home. For example, Dr. Andrew Collins of ThedaCare Physicians-Oshkosh sees patients at ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano, also. Other providers move between locations, too, to bring care to you.
Among doctors employed by ThedaCare, our five-year average for physician turnover is 2%. That’s well below the 2012 national rate of 6.8% as reported by the American Medical Group Association. Many of our ThedaCare doctors have strong ties to northeastern Wisconsin and so prefer to practice in the place they call home. What’s more, new doctors are always coming on board. They’re attracted to our approach to quality and patient care. What’s more, our participation in a local residency program with the University of Wisconsin helps us gain early access to new doctors.
Doctors appreciate ThedaCare’s approach. “ThedaCare is a premier organization with a strong reputation for quality. It’s progressive and willing to evolve and change to meet the needs of patients and the community. Plus, ThedaCare cares about its employees and I work with a great group of colleagues,” said Dr. Luke Tremble, pediatrician, Appleton.
Many ThedaCare patients see an advanced practice nurse practitioner (APNP) or physician assistant (PA) for their primary or specialist care. APNPs and PAs, also called associate providers, are integral your ability to access timely, affordable health care.
“Nurse practitioners have many years of nursing experience and extensive training in graduate school,” said Lesley Fuerst, advanced practice nurse practitioner, Clintonville. “Plus, we work closely with doctors as colleagues and coaches. I really appreciate looking at my patients from a holistic perspective. If someone comes in for hypertension, I talk about their life to learn what is going on. I may sensedepression, for example. Listening and asking questions are important to What we do."
“I’ve been with ThedaCare 25 years, and 20 of those years have been as a nurse practitioner. I’m accountable for the same access and quality as my physician colleagues – we’re held to the same standards,” said Scott Schuldes, advanced practice nurse practitioner, Hilbert. “In my case, I love bringing high quality care to rural communities. I love taking care of families in small towns and seeing their families grow. I took care of babies who are now having babies!”
Our 700 independent specialist partners also are committed to patient care, and they appreciate and are aligned with our approach to excellence. They share in our system of electronic health records, for example, so you don’t have to carry your personal record back and forth to appointments. When they need to add or replace doctors in their practices, we often work together with them to recruit just the right doctor for their team. As a result, the specialists you need remain available and accessible.
In addition to the many primary care physicians in our medical group, ThedaCare also employs endocrinologists, infection control and rheumatology specialists, along with sports medicine doctors, orthopedic surgeons and cardiologists.
The change-up in pay-up
You may have heard that under the new health care law doctors and hospitals are going to be paid less. ThedaCare has been working for years to change how doctors and hospitals get paid. Right now, health care providers are paid on how much care they deliver, not how good that care is. We believe we should be paid for the quality of our care, not the volume of it. That’s what our patients expect.
We work with like-minded providers and other healthcare organizations to help Medicare and private insurers pay for excellent care, not the amount of care you receive. If you receive high quality care, you are less like to be readmitted to the hospital, more likely to keep your diabetes under control and more likely to complete your colonoscopy. ThedaCare doctors would like to be paid for that reason – not because they kept you in the hospital longer, or ordered unneeded tests or asked you to come back for more appointments.
Some aspects of the ACA explore new payment options for providers like us, who are focused on quality. For example, we are participating in an Accountable Care Organization that is reducing costs by an average of 4.6% for 23,000 Medicare patients. We’re shortening hospital stays for these patients, and reducing hospital admissions and readmissions.
ThedaCare physicians are #1 in Wisconsin on key chronic and preventive care measures, like catching cancer sooner and bringing diabetes under control. Better quality and better management of care processes adds up to better overall care, at lower cost.