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I have been a physician in primary care internal medicine for over 25 years - 15 years in an academic practice and now 10 years in a private group practice. I still find it a great honor to see my patients, share in their lives and maybe once in a while even make a difference. Yet, daily I am taken away from my patients to do more and more clerical non reimbursable work, battling insurance companies for prior authorizations and the like and jumping through hoop after hoop for a shrinking amount of revenue. We have continued to try and reduce our overhead but reached a limit where further reductions are simply not viable. We can't do more. There is no more time to do more. Our patients, our staff and our families need us rather to do it differently. We need to "think outside the box". We as Vermont physicians and providers need to do it smarter. We need to use our collective wisdom and strength to buy supplies, phones, insurances and yes even toilet paper cheaper and smarter. We need to use our collective wills to begin to inform, educate, and move our political leadership, the insurers and the people of Vermont as to what real health care reform is. We need Healthfirst now more than ever. We need it and our patients must have it so that we can continue to deliver the best care possible."

Peter G.S. Gunther MD, Internal Medicine
South Burlington, Vermont

vermont health first memberClick here to read more.
We invite you to participate in an exciting new statewide initiative created by Vermont physicians - Healthfirst, Inc.

Healthfirst was started in the fall of 2010 as a non-profit organization by several Vermont physicians who felt that it was becoming increasingly difficult to practice medicine in the current healthcare environment.

All health care providers face similar obstacles: the cost of delivering high quality individualized care to our patients continues to increase steadily but reimbursement for these services has stagnated or declined. As a result, many independent offices have been forced to close or have been taken over by larger organizations. In addition, healthcare politics (healthcare reform, rules and regulations) threaten the independence of private health care providers by favoring the big players in the health care market, large hospitals, health insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies. In contrast, private healthcare providers currently do not have a voice that is heard by those in charge of health care reform.

Given our limited time, and the many other constraints most of us deal with on a daily basis, these issues are difficult if not impossible to manage individually. Healthfirst is not striving to develop a large group practice, rather, we are creating a state wide support network of independent practices so we can continue to care for our patients in our existing form and in the current healthcare climate. Specifically, members of Healthfirst benefit from:
  • Taking advantage of potential volume based discounts such as: group rates for malpractice and health insurance premiums for physicians and their staff, banking and asset management fees; discounts for cell phone service, office supplies and furniture, laboratory and radiology materials.
  • Having access to local experts with know-how in strategic planning, healthcare reform (clinical and payment), anti-trust, law and contracting (non-risk/risk and shared savings).
  • Gaining a voice in the political process of meaningful healthcare reform.
We expect that these benefits will have a significant effect on lowering overhead cost for individual practices thereby ensuring that we can continue to deliver the best possible individualized care for our patients.

ACC established by Healthfirst
Healthfirst has partnered with Collaborative Health Systems (CHS) to participate in the Accountable Care Coalition of the Green Mountains (ACCGM), the first Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organization in Vermont. ACCGM currently services approximately 6,500 Medicare Fee-For-Service beneficiaries and is working to improve the health and well-being of those individuals. You can find more information about ACCGM and our care coordination and health improvement initiatives on the ACCGM website by clicking on the following link: