Health Care "Coopetition"
"There is always going to be someone who will talk to you, especially in this environment," says WM founder Michael Sanson.
Sanson worked at St. Joe's for eleven years before he and his wife, Sherrie Tefend, also an internal medicine physician, started WM in 2003. It's since grown to include twenty-four providers in five offices who send patients to the U-M, St. Joe's, and Beaumont Hospital in suburban Detroit. But Sanson says he's committed to staying independent of any one hospital, because he likes being nimble. St. Joe's, he says, is "a good organization, and it's a larger organization, and sometimes smaller details are not addressed in a timely manner." When he worked there, he says, if he needed a new medical assistant the authorization and budgeting process could take several months. Now, when he needs a new assistant, he just hires one.
Sanson is able to stay independent in part through the support of the Huron Valley Physicians Association. Created by a small group of St. Joe's doctors in 1973, HVPA has grown to include 750 physicians who pool resources in areas such as informational technology and billing. But now change is in the air for HVPA.