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VOL. 128 | NO. 187 | Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Select Health Alliance Names Sullivant Chief Medical Officer

By Michael Waddell

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Baptist Memorial Health Care’s Select Health Alliance has named Dr. Henry Sullivant as its first chief medical officer. Sullivant will lead the physician-led clinical integration project, with the mission to deliver a better insurance care model that will then go to the marketplace as a collaborative effort between a physician group and a hospital.

“The ultimate goal is to improve efficiencies of care, minimize redundancies of care, eliminate waste in health care delivery, and reduce health care costs,” said Sullivant, president and managing partner at the Ruch Clinic, where he has practiced as an obstetrician and gynecologist since 1983. “It’s a perfect marriage of physicians and hospitals delivering a better quality product to the community. As a physician, I want to know what my colleagues are doing and who is providing the best care that is the most efficient and most cost-effective.”


Sullivant is also a former president of the Baptist Memorial Hospital for Woman, chairman of Baptist’s OB/GYN department, head of the hospital’s metro medical executive committee and chair of quality improvement.

Select Health Alliance is a partnership between Baptist and a large physician group that began two and a half years ago. Coordinated care, or a continuum of care for patient outcomes, is identified and tracked, and data sharing is used to produce better-quality metrics for patients in the future.

More than 700 physicians across the Mid-South have already enrolled with Select Health Alliance, including many early enrollees from Baptist Medical Group’s roster of nearly 500 physicians. Sullivant expects to have more than 3,000 doctors enrolled in the near future.

“Everything is coordinated to deliver a very high-quality product,” Sullivant said. “Sharing information and data will eliminate unnecessary expense and inefficiencies, as well as redundancies of care, which are inherent in how we take care of patients.”

The clinical integration concept is new to Memphis but not nationally. Two other well-developed clinical integration programs are found at Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston and Advocate Health Care in Chicago.

“Historically physician groups and hospitals competed many times for the same health care dollar, but that’s changing very rapidly due to various payment models around the country that are evolving,” Sullivant said. “Doctors and hospitals now are collaborating to deliver a better health care product.”

Select Health began sweeping data locally this spring and will begin analyzing data in the coming months.

“The areas we know that we are targeting very quickly are the movement of the patients through the emergency room, looking at the redundancy of some of our radiographic studies, and generic drug usage,” Sullivant said. “We can look at how each patient was managed to get the best outcome, and we can share that information across our system so that every doctor has the benefit of knowing what is working the best for our collaborative.”

He expects the alliance to improve the care given to each patient and save the system money by identifying most cost-effective treatment and medications.

“It’s a perfect marriage of physicians and hospitals delivering a better quality.”

–Dr. Henry Sullivant

The move to electronic medical records is making the data collection more efficient than in the past. Select Health utilizes the Crimson data repository, developed by The Advisory Board Co., which already includes data from approximately 900,000 physicians nationwide. More than 2,000 hospitals are currently aligned with Crimson, and its database can be used for comparative purposes in specific areas such as care for management of pneumonia, hypertension, diabetes, knee injuries or an assortment of other ailments.

Sullivant expects to analyze the quality data produced from local offices and have tough governance over that quality; however, the majority of the alliance’s physicians are not under contract or aligned with Baptist. In fact, independent physicians control the majority vote on the Select Health board.

“This initiative is also going to provide us with a health care delivery model for looking at future payment models like pay-for-performance and bundle payments,” said Sullivant, who believes the end result will be care that is streamlined, cost-effective and timely and that delivers a high patient-satisfaction rate.

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