The Urology Center of Colorado
In 2003, urologist Richard Augspurger, MD, and healthcare administrator Bob Asinof developed a plan to create a singlesite, full-service urology practice. So they began pitching their vision to individual practices in the Denver area.
“Bob and I saw where medicine was headed, and we knew that large-group practices were the future,” said Augspurger, TUCC’s medical director. “We wanted to be big enough that we could capitalize projects, because it’s very difficult to do that in a small group. We also wanted to offer the highest-quality care to our patients, and one of the best ways to do that was in a single location. Finally, we wanted to offer integrated ancillary services to our patients and capture the revenue [technical fees] that we were previously sending out.”
“We wanted to create a center of excellence where all outpatient urologic care could be provided in one facility,” explained Asinof, Chief Executive Officer of TUCC. “We knew we had to find land to build the center. We did that at the start. If the groups and individuals put money in the real estate early on, there would be no turning back.”
Two Colorado-area practices, Colorado Urology Associates and Western Urologic Associates, merged to form TUCC, and in 2006, the center opened the doors of its 60,000-square foot facility, offering Colorado urology patients what Asinof called a “one-stop healthcare experience.”Urologists in Cancer Care
spoke with Asinof and Augspurger about the practice’s history and how such a large group manages to stay at the top of its game. In addition, Eric Gross, MD, TUCC’s radiation oncologist, offered his perspective on the advances his field has made in treating urologic cancer.
A Team-Based Approach
TUCC includes radiology, laboratory, and pathology services; a urologic cancer treatment program including robotic surgery and radiation therapy; a clinical research department led by Lawrence Karsh, MD; and an ambulatory surgical center. The practice has 16 physicians and four allied health professionals, plus over 100 employees and support staff.
The practice has also established the TUCC Foundation to support its community outreach programs such as “The Blue Shoe Run for Prostate Cancer,” an annual 5K run/walk fundraiser for prostate cancer research and community screenings.
How does a major organization like this run smoothly? Constant communication facilitated by having everyone in the same place.
“We have a lot of interaction between our physicians, which make us very culturally strong as a practice,” Augspurger said. “It’s not just a collective of physicians, working out of multiple locations, practicing medicine without any input for their colleagues. We really work collaboratively.”
Those united efforts include an executive board that meets monthly to develop the practice’s game plan. There are also several subcommittees that manage TUCC’s clinical programs, operations, and marketing.
Patient undergoing image-guided radiation therapy with a linear accelerator.
It’s in urologic cancer that TUCC has refined its group-effort strategy. First, they have an in-house tumor board that includes urologists, pathologists, and radiologists, as well as medical and radiation oncologists. “A medical oncologist from one of the largest cancer treatment centers in the state holds office hours at our facility twice a month,” Augspurger said.
TUCC also formed a committee focused on castration-resistant prostate cancer and consisting of the research director, urologists, the medical oncologist, and a reimbursement specialist. “Our physicians are able to present their prostate cancer cases to this panel, which helps figure out the next step: Is this patient a candidate for a trial? Is he a candidate for a treatment like Provenge? Then, we make recommendations based not only on what’s best for patients clinically, but also what’s most cost effective,” Augspurger said.
“Starting in April, we’ll invite patients’ primary care physicians (PCPs) to attend the committee meetings to get their input,” he added.