Dean History: 1980s- Dean - WI

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Dean Medical Group's History

A Tour Through The Decades

Dean History: 1980s

  • Physicians at East Madison Clinic and Dean Clinic merged on Jan. 1, 1982.
  • A newspaper article announces the Jan. 1, 1982 merger of the medical group practices of East Madison Clinic and Dean Clinic on Fish Hatchery Road, becoming Dean Medical Center.
  • Dean Medical Center formed its own health maintenance program (HMO) called DeanCare in 1983. It was later known as Dean Health Plan.
  • Dean Clinic opened a facility in Waunakee, Wis. in 1986. A new clinic, twice the size of the original, opened in 2013.
  • In 1986, Dean Clinic opened in Stoughton, Wis.
  • The Deerfield, Wis., community received its own Dean Clinic in 1986.
  • In 1987, the first Dean Clinic outside of Dane County opened in Whitewater, Wis.
  • In the late 1980s, Dean Clinic opened its doors in Oregon, Wis.
  • Dean's circular purple logo with a physician holding an infant underwent multiple iterations, but it started with this prototype generated via a photo shoot.

A Merger, Health Maintenance Organization, and Foundation

The physicians at what was known as the East Madison Clinic and Dean Clinic on Fish Hatchery merged their medical group practices on January 1, 1982. The merger combined the two Dean Clinic venues in Madison with the East Madison Clinic’s Atwood Avenue facility and the clinics’ branch offices, Sun Prairie Clinic and Dean Clinic-Gammon Road Office.

The new medical group

Each clinic now would be known as a division of the newly named Dean Medical Center. At the time, East Madison had approximately thirty physicians and Fish Hatchery about sixty, and the combined clinics had more than three hundred nurses, therapists, counselors, technicians, secretaries, bookkeepers and other staff.

The merger was brought about as a result of the consulting relationships the physicians had with each other at the two clinics. East Madison had been mostly a primary care clinic, while Dean Clinic was more of a specialty clinic. Physicians from both had worked with each other as well as at St. Mary’s Hospital when their patients were hospitalized there. They shared similar philosophies of taking care of the patient first above all else, often served on the same committees, and had grown to know and trust each other.

At the time of the merger, physicians from both clinics were already working closely together in terms of consultation and collaborative care. It was a natural fit. Dr. Mark Kaufman, Chief Medical Officer for Dean Health Plan in the early 90s and later CMO for Dean Clinic, said, “It was a really terrific match of values of specialty mixes of where people practiced, and I think it really set the stage for Dean’s continued growth.”

Beginning of Dean’s HMO

The following year, Dean Medical Center formed its own health maintenance program (HMO) called DeanCare, later known as Dean Health Plan. The formation of the HMO resulted in part from a decision by the state of Wisconsin to revamp its employee health insurance coverage and maximize competition while minimizing cost. The state let its contract with the Wisconsin Physicians Service expire.

Essentially, the state of Wisconsin’s employee trust fund dictated that medical groups like Dean Medical Center, which had been bidding for the state contract with fee-for-service products, now had to provide an HMO managed care offering. With approximately 38,000 state employees in the Dane County area, and the Dean Medical Center caring for more than one fifth of the state employees and their families, it was critical for Dean to be able to compete when the state contract would expire during that summer.

In the spirit of entrepreneurship first demonstrated by Dean Clinic founder Dr. Joseph Dean, the Dean Medical Center started its own HMO. Other health care providers in Madison had their HMOs managed by outside vendors. Dean was hoping that it could successfully manage health care quality and cost controls themselves. This risky decision proved to be a catalyst for a transformation that would continue in subsequent decades. It catapulted DeanCare into becoming the largest HMO in Wisconsin, as well as making it one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in the Midwest.

Value model of care

As a physician-owned and governed organization, Dean physicians now had to be particularly attentive to both quality care and cost control. Initially, Dr. Paul Simenstad and later, in 1998, Dr. Mark Kaufman managed DeanCare. They also took care of their own patients and followed the same HMO rules they helped formulate.

Deancare’s part-time HMO medical directors were also practicing physicians. So, these physicians, as well as other Dean staff, learned firsthand how to take care of patients and be accountable for the business outcomes associated with operating an HMO.

This gradually evolved into the “value model” of care which permeates the Dean organization today. Those guiding operational principles are providing high-quality, evidence-based best practices of care at the lowest possible cost. This evolution, according to Dr. Kaufman, is a result of Dean’s decision to develop its own HMO. “To the degree that we subscribe to the value model for all our patients [today], we really cut our teeth through our own health plan. In retrospect, it was a linchpin of success of the next three decades. We learned to manage ourselves.”

The Dean Foundation

As an outgrowth of the DeanCare HMO, the Dean Foundation was established in 1986 as the charitable partner of the Dean Medical Center. The foundation epitomized the practice of the Dean staff to be good citizens, in addition to providing superior medical care.

Initially, the foundation primarily supported medical research. Soon the focus broadened to embody a commitment to improve the health of the community through research, education and care for the underserved.

Both then and today, Foundation programs and services are often initiated at the behest of Dean physicians, who identify gaps in services or shortcomings in medical knowledge. The foundation then commonly forges partnerships with other local organizations to address community needs. Dean Foundation executive director Renee Reback describes the guiding philosophy of the foundation as: “We’re here to serve those who need us most.”

New clinic openings

Dean Medical Center’s expansion, both inside and outside of Madison, continued in the 1980s. The Arcand Park Clinic opened on 3434 E. Washington Avenue in 1984 as did Urgent Care Centers at the West Madison and Arcand Park locations. Clinics in Waunakee, Stoughton and Deerfield opened in 1986. The Monona Eye Clinic opened its doors during this time, providing Ophthalmologic and Optometric care.

In 1987, the first Dean Medical Center clinic outside of Dane County opened in Whitewater. During the next few years, clinics opened in Oregon, Middleton and McFarland, while eye clinics opened in Madison (“Hilldale Eye Office”) and Stoughton. That same year, Dean Medical Center also entered into a joint venture with Roley, Anderson, Speichinger, & Torhorst of Madison, providing expanded Obstetrical and Gynecological care.

Additional growth

The 1980s also marked an expansion of the collaborative ventures between Dean Medical Center and St. Mary’s Hospital, including:

  • In 1987, St. Mary’s Hospital and Dean Medical Center jointly opened the Geriatric Evaluation Center to provide services to older adults and their care-givers.
  • In 1988, St. Mary’s Hospital and Dean Medical Center became partners in Home Health United. This joint venture of St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo and two other hospitals in Sauk County was formed in 1986 to provide comprehensive home care services to patients in seven rural Wisconsin counties.
  • In 1989, St. Mary's/Dean Ventures, Inc. (SMDV) was formed as a joint venture between St. Mary's Hospital and Dean Clinic to create a network of rural community clinics linked to advanced specialty care in Madison. Today, there are more than 30 Regional and Eye Network clinics providing convenient care to outlying communities in southern Wisconsin. There are also three Surgery Centers in Madison and Janesville, providing outpatient surgery and care.
  • In 1989, The Surgery and Care Center, jointly operated with Dean Medical Center, opened next to St. Mary’s Hospital. That same year, The Memory Disorders Clinic opened, run by St. Mary’s Hospital and the Dean Medical Center.
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