Many physicians are by now familiar with such terms as “clinically integrated networks” (also known as CINs), but a slightly different model is beginning to emerge as independent practices resist being swallowed up by hospital systems, and physician organizations become more savvy. You can think of this model as a hybrid between the “super group” (or clinically integrated practice) model and the more familiar hospital-based offering whereby care coordination and data is managed centrally there. Rather, these independent integrated networks (IINs) are being driven by independent physician organizations, coalitions, and alliances between physicians themselves.
What is “clinical integration” anyway?
The Department of Justice and the FTC define clinical integration as an active and ongoing program to evaluate and modify practice patterns by the CIN’s physician participants and create a high degree of interdependence and cooperation among the physicians to control costs and ensure quality. Generally, the FTC considers a program to be clinically integrated if it performs the following:
1. Establishes mechanisms to monitor and control utilization of healthcare services that are designed to control costs and ensure quality of care;
2. Selectively chooses CIN physicians who are likely to further these efficiency objectives; and
3. Utilizes investment of significant capital, both monetary and human, in the necessary infrastructure and capability to realize the claimed efficiencies.