Many health systems are aggressively acquiring physician practices, but there may be an I.T.-driven alternative to a spending spree, according to Gaurov Dayal, M.D. In a talk at HIMSS12, Dayal outlined the “alignment without acquisition” strategy underway at Adventist Health Care, a Rockville, Md.-based delivery system of five hospitals where Dayal serves as chief medical officer.

Dayal points out that previous waves of physician practice acquisitions—most notably in the early 1990s—backfired when physician productivity dropped. By aligning with group practices, rather than owning them outright, Adventist hopes to avoid such pitfalls. “We don’t limit physician independence,” he says. “And you can’t hire all the physicians you need.”

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