Mercy Medical Center and DCIPA, The Physicians of Douglas County have started a new company representatives say will try to improve patient care and recruit doctors to Roseburg.
Architrave Health began operating Jan. 1. It is named after an architectural feature symbolic of the joint venture between the two health care organizations. An architrave is a beam that lies on top of two columns.
Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer, a Roseburg pediatrician, stepped down as CEO of DCIPA to head the new company. Roseburg physician Larry Sharp is DCIPA’s new CEO.
Mercy Medical Center spokeswoman Kathleen Nickel said Mercy and DCIPA will work together more closely, but are not merging.
“We’ll stay independent organizations. We’re just coming together on a new venture,” Nickel said.
Mercy and DCIPA will each have 50 percent ownership in Architrave. Dannenhoffer said one of Architrave’s purposes is to share information between the hospital and physicians about patient care. He said he hopes the cooperation will benefit patients.
“When we share information for patients, that’s good for the patient. It allows us to work together in some areas we didn’t work together before,” he said.
Increased coordination could mean, for example, that doctors do a better job helping patients transition from hospital medications to those they need in outpatient care. It could also prevent duplicating blood tests or other services.
Dannenhoffer said medical providers sometimes work “at cross purposes,” attempting to avoid problems by shifting blame and cost to other providers. This can be expensive for patients and their insurers. Cooperation through Architrave should eliminate some of that competition, he said.
Architrave will initially focus on Oregon Health Plan patients served by both entities. Dannenhoffer hopes the organization will be able to expand its focus to serve additional patients, beginning with Medicare Advantage patients served by the Roseburg-based insurance company Atrio Health Plans.
Architrave also will work to recruit physicians. The county has a shortage of general practitioners as well as an absence of doctors in many specialties. Dannenhoffer said doctors and the hospital will work together through Architrave to try to correct that.
“The goal is to have a vibrant medical community, a place where you can find the doctor you need. We want to be sure we can do that here,” Dannenhoffer said.
He said recruitment can be tough. Many doctors want to live in urban areas, especially those whose spouses can’t find jobs here. Dannenhoffer said it’s up to the medical community to persuade other doctors that Roseburg has a lot to offer.
“We think we’ll do well. We do have a great place and having the doctors work together is the best way to recruit,” he said.
Half of Architrave’s 10 board members will come from Mercy and half from DCIPA. The latter will give the for-profit company its one-third share in Atrio.
DCIPA is a for-profit organization representing 101 Douglas County physicians; it contracts to provide services for low-income patients on the Oregon Health Plan. Mercy Medical Center is nonprofit and faith-based. It has been the only general hospital in Roseburg since Douglas Community Hospital closed its doors in 2000.
The joint venture is uncommon.
“There aren’t a lot of other models like this where you have a strong physicians group and a strong hospital working together,” Dannenhoffer said.
Nickel said the collaboration is made possible in part by a rural advantage. Because the community is small enough for medical providers to know each other, it is easier to persuade them to work together for the benefit of patients, she said.
The partnership between DCIPA and Mercy is part of a larger trend toward cooperation.
Dannenhoffer was one of the founders of the state’s first coordinated care organization. The Umpqua Health Alliance serves 22,000 Douglas County residents who are on the Oregon Health Plan. Dannenhoffer has said the health alliance will work to provide better care for patients while saving money. As with Architrave, the health alliance will have a database to share information. It will also seek to lower costs by promoting preventive care and wellness among its low-income clients. Many of the people involved in their creation are the same, but Architrave is a separate entity from The Umpqua Health Alliance. DCIPA and Mercy are members of the Umpqua Health Alliance, which also involves the Umpqua Community Health Center, Douglas County Mental Health and other organizations.
Dannenhoffer said it is no coincidence so much innovation in health care is happening here.
“This isn’t just by chance. For many years we’ve cultivated medical leadership in town,” he said.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at email@example.com or 541-957-4213.