St. Louis is home to SSM Health, an organization of 30,000 employees (including 1,300 employed physicians), 175 clinic locations and 19 affiliated hospitals, primarily in four states – Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma. You get the idea—it is a big Midwestern deal! For the first time in their 143-year history, SSM Health is committing to creating a true integrated, regional delivery system for the future.
I recently spoke at the SSM Health annual leadership meeting in St. Louis. Among the distinguishing characteristics of this system are its ownership of Dean Health Plan and the recent merger with St. Louis University Hospital, an established academic medical center with an 80-year history. With all these assets, SSM Health is very well positioned to practice population-based medicine, and to thrive in a “no outcome, no income” world. They seem to be ahead of many comparable systems across the country and were receptive to my comments about population health. I took the opportunity to urge the board members who were in attendance to allocate resources for physician leadership training.
My strongly held belief is that implementing patient-centered medical homes, bundled payment, and Accountable Care Organizations, cannot be accomplished without strong physician leadership, and that requires training. Given their Midwestern roots, SSM Health is not prone to bragging about their accomplishments, but they have a lot to be proud of. I’m confident of their future success and I hope you’ll “meet me in St. Louis” one day too.