University, medical foundations partner to create Brown Physicians, Inc.

By bringing together Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School and six medical practices employing more than 500 doctors, BPI will enable a new level of coordination for research, teaching and clinical care in southern New England.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In an effort aimed at achieving greater integration of patient care, research and education across Rhode Island’s health care sector, six physician practice foundations have agreed to form a new physician-led federation, Brown Physicians, Inc., in partnership with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Members of the Corporation of Brown University joined the presidents of the six foundations in signing a formal agreement at a ceremony at Brown on Thursday, May 25, to create the nonprofit Brown Physicians, Inc. (BPI). The foundations are The Neurology Foundation, Inc.; University Emergency Medicine Foundation; University Medicine Foundation; University Surgical Associates, Inc.; Brown Urology, Inc.; and Brown Dermatology, Inc., all dedicated to fueling advances in health care in the state and the region.

Together, the six foundations employ more than 500 doctors, all of whom are also members of the Warren Alpert Medical School faculty, and many of whom work side-by-side in local hospitals with physicians and other health care providers employed by the hospitals.

“We believe that collaborating with our clinical partners to more tightly integrate patient care, research and education will result in a significant and positive impact on the local community,” said University President Christina Paxson.

The creation of BPI will enhance the ability of its members to serve the community’s health care needs, Paxson explained, to optimally educate the next generation of medical professionals, to grow combined research portfolios, and to contribute to the state’s plans to cultivate a thriving biomedical economy in Providence and the greater region.

According to foundation and University officials, by working more closely than ever, the physicians, the medical school and the hospitals will be better equipped to collaborate on educational initiatives and opportunities, to pool resources to support research and to coordinate clinical care and administrative functions.

Dr. Jack A. Elias, senior vice president for health affairs and dean of medicine and biologic sciences at Brown, will join the presidents of the foundations and a second Brown appointee to form BPI’s board of directors. He said the new organization will enable enhanced partnership between the foundations, Brown and its affiliated hospitals as they seek to develop new therapies in laboratories and deliver the best medical care in clinical settings.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to identify and implement a strategic approach that will help clinicians across important specialties identify efficient, effective ways to improve care for patients across the region,” Elias said. “BPI will yield new opportunities for our Brown medical students, focus resources on urgent areas of innovative research and enhance our ability to hire the best physician-scientists.”

Discussions on the effort to form BPI began among Brown’s medical school leaders, clinical faculty and affiliated health care providers approximately five years ago, Elias noted, and the partners worked over the last 15 months to outline an agreement.

Dr. Angela Caliendo, vice president of University Medicine and BPI’s interim executive director, said the foundations and their physicians will experience many benefits from sharing administrative resources, such as greater operating efficiency.

“Forming BPI is an important step, as it provides the foundations with the opportunity to enhance coordination of care, improve the quality of care for patients in RI and the region, better position us for success in the changing healthcare environment, and facilitate partnerships with the hospitals,” said Caliendo, who is also a professor of medicine at Brown. “The creation of BPI also underscores our commitment to the research and teaching missions of the medical school.”

Elias and Caliendo noted that the potential for improved patient care in the region is an important focus of the agreement. While patients of the six foundations will face no practical changes to how they receive care, they stand to benefit from enhanced administrative and medical coordination. Over the longer term, greater collaboration on research can lead to the development of advanced therapies that will ultimately benefit patients.

In forming the partnership, both the physician practice foundations and Brown’s medical school will invest financially to ensure BPI’s success in both the short and long term. The University will contribute funds toward operations during BPI’s first decade and raise funds to endow professorships and make new hires within the partnership. Meanwhile, the members of the foundations will contribute a modest percentage of revenues toward supporting research and other academic activities.

The agreement to form BPI will take effect on July 1, 2017. At the outset, the foundations will retain their status as individual corporations within the BPI federation. Caliendo said the agreement outlines parameters for further integration in the future to achieve evolving goals for expansion and growth.