Dan Murrey, MD, MPP is SCA Health’s Chief Physician Executive and Senior Vice President of Optum Specialty Care. He is an orthopedic spine surgeon who previously co-founded and served as chief executive officer of OrthoCarolina, one of the largest orthopedic practices in the country.
Murrey discussed his background, what makes SCA Health different from our competitors, hospital ASC consolidation, and how we serve patients and physicians to create the premier place to provide and receive specialty care.
Answers provided by Dr. Murrey are noted as DM
Q: What is your background? How did you arrive at SCA Health?
DM: I started in Charlotte, NC, in the late 1990s at Charlotte Orthopedic Specialists. During my time there, we saw considerable consolidation as hospitals were buying up all the practices. We needed to find a way to maintain our standing within the market. As a result, we merged with the former Miller Clinic, creating OrthoCarolina, where I served as co-President and then CEO. We subsequently underwent a long series of additional mergers that eventually grew the practice to 40 offices and 160 physicians.
In relation to SCA Health, they were an ASC partner, and I served on the physician advisory board at the time. In 2017 SCA was acquired by Optum, and soon after, I was invited to create a specialty practice partnership offering to give practices a better chance to remain independent but gain a strategic partner to navigate the new value-based care environment. I joined SCA Health in early 2018 and developed Optum Specialty Practices, and became SCA’s first Chief Medical Officer supporting our patient safety mission.
Q: How does SCA Health work to provide a safe place for physicians to provide care and for patients to receive care?
DM: Patient safety and clinical quality are our top priorities. We need to serve our surgeon partners. Surgeons need a place to care for patients that is physician friendly and will allow them to take care of patients properly. It needs to be efficient and cost-effective to help them expedite care. SCA Health and our partners share a common goal: to ensure our patients are safe when receiving the surgical care they need.
We rely on physicians to make the right clinical decisions and avoid harmful events. But we also do extensive training and reinforcement to build a culture of patient safety within our centers, empowering teammates to speak up when they have a concern or risk of harm. We’ve seen a steady reduction of potentially harmful events like falls and medication errors, but there’s always room to improve. Our goal is to have zero adverse incidents in our centers.
At SCA Health we are creating a high-reliability organization in our centers. We want it to be like an airport, an “if you see something, say something” approach. We want staff in each center to feel comfortable bringing up any issues they may see. Everyone, including physicians, nurses, and administrative staff, must play a part in ensuring that our patients remain safe and limit adverse events by following policies, communicating effectively, respecting each teammate’s expertise, and creating mindful redundancies that eliminate single points of failure.
Q: What are the benefits for a physician who partners with SCA Health?
DM: I want physicians to know we are a company built on physician partnerships. All of our facilities are joint venture partnerships with physicians, and our success is dependent on the well-being of their practice. SCA Health doesn’t even own a majority share in most centers we work with. We believe in physician leadership and preserving their independence, and we want them to play an integral part in leading their center.
Our support services have been refined over decades to provide best-in-class back office functions as well as clinical and operational support, freeing our surgeons up to focus on delivering high-quality healthcare to their patients. With our joint ownership model and shared commitment to their patients, our incentives and goals are naturally aligned. Our partners know that they will be engaged in decision-making processes and that we will be supporting them in every way we can to achieve our shared success.
Q: How is SCA Health working to preserve physician independence and avoid hospital consolidation?
DM: We’re seeing hospital consolidation across the country along with the aggregation of practices. Many hospital systems want to control all aspects of the delivery system, which, unfortunately, often drives care into more expensive settings and raises patient costs. It also can lead to a loss of autonomy for the physicians. In some cases, we have even partnered directly with physician practices, not just their ASCs, to provide similar management support and strategic alignment.
We want to make sure that physicians keep their seats at the table. We want to improve resiliency and drive synergies within the healthcare marketplace that allow physicians to remain independent while joining a more extensive network. As one of our partners, we enable physicians to be a part of the process from start to finish and keep them from feeling forced to consolidate with a hospital or health system if they don’t want to. We want to advocate for them and allow them to advocate for themselves. By offering this ability to retain independence while receiving support from SCA Health, we maintain greater choice for patients and clinicians.
To learn more about how SCA Health can assist your practice or center visit sca.health today.