Ray Kuntz, Lake Shore, Minn., column: Altru makes smart, strategic business decisionsIt is unrealistic for Dr. Noah Chelliah to want the benefits of being a sole physician but expect to also have the benefit of being a health system practitioner.
By: Ray Kuntz,
By Ray Kuntz
LAKE SHORE, Minn. — I would like to respond to some of Dr. Noah Chelliah’s concerns (“Bottom line: Altru squelched competition,” column, Page D3, April 29).
In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to state that I am a retired administrator of Altru Health System but have no current relationship with Altru, other then as a patient with a tremendous amount of respect for the organization.
Likewise, I know Dr. Chelliah, and as with Altru, I respect him as well. But I must take exception to some of his criticism of Altru.
All I know about Altru’s acquisition of the former Aurora Medical Center basically is what I’ve read in the newspaper, as I have no other information. From an outsider’s point of view, it appears to be a good strategic business decision.
First, I’d like to say I am a “free market capitalist” and am proud of it. I have nothing but respect for physicians who wish to set up a private practice to provide good patient care.
As president of his own organization, Chelliah can make all the decisions on how he wishes to run his practice, without having to answer to a board, sit through seemingly endless committee meetings or having to deal with those (current and former) pesky administrators.
For a solo practice physician, these can be real benefits.
Having said that, there are also risks and trade-offs to this type of practice. Regarding the call situation, one of the major benefits a group practice setting can offer its physicians is the ability to share call within their own call groups, thus making call a less burdensome part of a physicians’ practice.
It is unrealistic for Chelliah to want the benefits of being a sole physician but expect to also have the benefit of being a health system practitioner.
Likewise, with the participation in Altru’s managed care plans, it would be unrealistic for Chelliah to expect to participate in these plans, as they are unique to Altru; and for the organization’s employees and dependents, Altru pays the majority of the health plan cost.
In my view, people in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota have a tremendous advantage in having have a locally owned integrated health care system such Altru Health System.
All decisions are made by a local board of community members for the benefit of the patients and communities Altru serves. Decisions are not made in Minneapolis or Sioux Falls.
In today’s health care environment, it is vitally important to have a health care provider with the resources and stability that are needed to keep pace with changing technology and current treatment protocols.
Altru’s recent affiliation with Mayo Clinic, without giving up local control, is another fine example of Altru’s commitment to state-of-the-art care.
I believe the future for health care in Altru’s expanding market looks very bright indeed. This can also benefit the physicians who choose to practice independently, again realizing the benefits and trade-offs in the decisions solo practice physicians make.
Kuntz is a former administrative director of clinical operations and clinical support services at Altru.