April 10, 1996
Media Contact: Gary Logan
Phone: (410) 955-5307

Johns Hopkins Creating Specialty Networks With Community Physicians More than 200 cardiologists and 140 ophthalmologists in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia have joined physician networks being developed by Johns Hopkins to partner with community physicians and deliver appropriate, cost-efficient care across the region.

"Well-coordinated, proper care not only represents the best quality for the patient, but also delivers true savings to the patient and payor as well," says John D. Stobo, M.D., chairman and CEO of Johns Hopkins HealthCare, LLC (JHHC), which contracts on behalf of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and The Johns Hopkins Health System. "We are building regional programs like our Cardiovascular Network and Wilmer Eye Network that reflect these objectives and can inspire beneficial partnerships with our local health plans and community providers."

Michele Deverich, JHHC's vice president of Network and Product Development, notes that network physicians have been handpicked by Hopkins' faculty for their clinical expertise. "We knew of their reputations, their work, their current practice and geographic location. Many have trained at Hopkins and are well-known in their field and respective communities," says Deverich.

Other networks being developed include, among others, asthma and allergy, dermatology, gastroenterology, mental health, otolaryngology, pediatrics, primary care and pulmonary medicine. All have the goal of partnering with community physicians to provide the most appropriate care in the most appropriate setting.

"It makes sense for patients to come to Hopkins when they need our services, but also to be cared for in their communities when their needs can be met there," says Linda Rittelmann, assistant administrator of Hopkins Cardiovascular Services.

The Wilmer Eye Network includes over 100 community ophthalmology practices, 44 optometry locations and 6 Wilmer Comprehensive Eye Centers in the region, which includes Central Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. The network also plans to expand into the Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. area.

Morton Goldberg, M.D., chairman of the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, notes that "there are some networks fairly well-developed in the Maryland region, and our initial fear was If we build it, will they come?' But with the Wilmer name and the expertise we provide, we felt this is an excellent opportunity for Hopkins to provide first-rate eye care beyond the Baltimore region, and we've been very pleased."

In the Wilmer Eye Network, notes its medical director, Nicholas T. Iliff, M.D., optometrists serve as the primary care vision provider and ophthalmologists as the total eye care provider. Emergency and specialty care is provided by the Wilmer Eye Institute, Maryland's only designated eye trauma center. Surgery is done at a surgicenter at Green Spring Station, at the Wilmer Institute and elsewhere. As with all JHHC networks, WEN respects the patient's right to convenient, accessible and local care.

"We're offering payors and patients everything from primary care to tertiary care without going out of network," says Elizabeth Peterson, program manager. "If you get hit in the eye, you don't have to call your primary care provider, who then has to call Wilmer. You go right to the Wilmer Network doctors. That's the positive benefit of integration, a better way to manage care that works."

The network, as with all Hopkins physicians groups, meets accreditation standards of the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Also, each network is creating a physician advisory board made up of both Hopkins and community physicians to help develop practice criteria, clinical guidelines, and utilization and quality control standards for common diagnoses. Like the Cardiovascular Network, Wilmer has developed clinical practice guidelines with community providers.

"The Wilmer Eye Network's expanded panel of community optometrists, general ophthalmologists and specialists provides payor groups with excellent access to quality eye care," says Peterson.

The network currently manages nearly 95,000 lives through managed care contracts with EHP, Inc., which provides care for self-insured employers, Humana and the Johns Hopkins Medical Services Corporation.

Wilmer is also exploring contract opportunities with several additional self-insured employers in the metropolitan Baltimore area.

The Hopkins Cardiovascular Network became active on Jan. 1 in 223 locations in the five-state region. Hopkins' director of cardiology, Kenneth Baughman, M.D., who visited cardiologists in the region, says he's "hearing good things about our access, communications and transport. It continues to be most rewarding to work hand-in-hand with our community physician members in developing and implementing excellent, practical clinical guidelines we can all embrace."

Glen Burnie, Md., cardiologist Kevin Doyle, M.D., says he joined the network because of Hopkins' reputation in cardiac surgery services and interventions like angioplasty and arthrectomy. "As private practitioners in the community, we try to provide as full a service as we can. But sometimes our patients need a hospital with a higher level of care than in the community setting. We know that Hopkins is an excellent backup for cardiac care, and it's nice to know our patients will be taken care of by people who are highly qualified."

Columbia, Md., cardiologist Jerome Hantman, M.D., adds, "One of the major features of this network is being hooked into one of the best facilities in the country, allowing us to deliver quality, efficient care in cardiology. As contracts for managed care come down the pike, joining such a high-quality network seems the ideal way to go. The Hopkins network will provide a broad patient base and its information systems will enable us to deliver efficient care, maximizing the number of contracts that will go to us instead of other networks."

-- JHMI --
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