JOPLIN, MO--- As the community's only locally owned and not-for-profit health system, quality care is our top priority at Freeman Health System. Our physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff serve this community each day, focused on our mission to provide comprehensive care to our patients. Part of that same mission is to be transparent in our operations to both employees and the community.
In 2009, through our own internal audit activities, we identified a potential issue related to our system's approach to compensating some office-based physicians. This internal review discovered that we had inadvertently made errors in the way we structured compensation agreements for some office-based physicians and that those agreements did not meet very complex federal guidelines. As a part of this process, we engaged outside experts to conduct a comprehensive analysis and to provide recommendations for improvements to the system.
The extensive third party review confirmed that the quality of care provided to patients was not affected in any way. It was also determined that no patient or governmental entity was billed for any service that was not provided.
After the review was completed in 2009, we contacted the appropriate regulatory agency to voluntarily disclose that our compensation system did not meet all of the requirements of a federal regulation regarding hospital-physician relationships. As part of our disclosure, we provided information about our compensation system and immediately changed our compensation formula to ensure full compliance. After working with the federal government and offering our full cooperation, we are pleased to have reached a resolution with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office that includes a $9,316,139 million settlement agreement. Additionally, Freeman Health System is not subject to any ongoing oversight by these entities related to the voluntary disclosure.
When Baker took office as President and CEO of Freeman Health System earlier this year, she began working with the federal government to complete the resolution of this issue. "We are pleased that this resolution has been reached and the error corrected," said Baker. "Freeman physicians, employees, and the Board of Directors are proud to know that throughout this process the quality of care was never at issue, nor did our focus on providing superior patient care and access to the area's largest network of physicians ever waver. Our commitment to this community's health and wellness needs remains steadfast."