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Mont. Clinic Aims to Deliver Top-quality Care for Less

The Billings Clinic sets out to provide top-quality health care at a low cost by integrating doctor visits, hospital care and surgery. Betty Ann Bowser reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    The Health Unit is a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

  • U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    There are examples of how we can make the entire health care system more efficient.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER, NewsHour correspondent: When President Obama talks about his idea of great health care, he usually singles out a few choice models.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    What worked? The Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, Geisinger, Kaiser Permanente. There are health systems around the country that actually have costs that are as much as 20 or 30 percent lower than the national average and have higher quality. What is it that they're doing differently than other systems?

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    What they're doing is providing excellent care at a low cost through an integrated system where doctor visits, tests, surgery, hospital care — the works — are all done under one roof.

    But the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics aren't the only integrated health care systems getting good outcomes. In a place you might least expect to find it, here in south-central Montana, the Billings Clinic is getting similar results.

    DR. MARK RUMANS, physician-in-chief, Billings Clinic: At the core of who we are is this multi-specialty group practice where all the physicians are really working together for the care of the patient.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Dr. Mark Rumans is Billings' physician-in-chief.

  • DR. MARK RUMANS:

    We have nearly 240 physicians here now who believe in this model that we have, and we can be successful by showing that we can deliver high-quality, safe patient care and have better outcomes by doing it this way.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Across the country, most doctors are independent private contractors who get paid a fee for every service they perform. But at Billings, like the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics, doctors are employees on salary. That includes high-end specialists like cardiologists, oncologists and radiologists. Since they all work together in the same system, for patients it's a kind of one-stop shopping.

  • BILLINGS EMPLOYEE:

    We have a lady we're bringing up to labor and delivery.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    With 3,500 employees, the Billings Clinic is Montana's largest multi-specialty medical group practice, treating 148,000 patients annually and a dozen primary care and specialty care clinics in the region.

    Dr. Jorge Nieva is an oncologist at Billings.