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Obamacare Spurs Three Health Systems to Collaborate
--John George for the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Three Philadelphia-area health systems are joining forces in an initiative that will allow each to remain independent while working collaboratively to address changes coming under the Affordable Care Act.Abington Health, Aria Health and Einstein Healthcare Network will work together initially to jointly manage the self-insured, health-care benefit plans for their employees and families, which collectively total about 30,000 people.Their trio’s long-term goals are to establish a platform to improve care delivery throughout the community for individuals and families, and to improve the health of populations through highly coordinated and efficient care. That would enable them to, over time, contract to provide population health management with other self-insured employers and with private and government health insurance programs.The effort to better coordinate care is in response to a shift under health-care reform that will, instead of paying health-care providers based on the procedures they perform, compensate health-care providers for keeping populations of patients healthy and effectively managing the care of those who require treatment.Kathleen Kinslow, president and CEO of Philadelphia-based Aria Health, said the leaders of the three systems have been involved in discussions over the past 18 months about collaborating on a population health initiative.“Population health management calls on caregivers to consistently offer efficient, effective, high-quality care and anticipate – instead of respond to – the health needs of patients,” said Kathleen Kinslow, president and CEO of Philadelphia-based Aria Health. “This new approach, which we will offer first to our employees and their families, is built on care coordination, proactive interventions that prevent illness and collaboration with an array of community resources.”Barry R. Freedman, president and CEO of Einstein Healthcare Network, said health-care reform is driving “forward-thinking” health-care providers to “develop new models and new collaborations with like-minded peers to tackle the challenges of reform and other industry trends that are transforming health care from a fragmented system based on fee-for-service reimbursement to a coordinated, collaborative system focused on the prevention of disease and management of chronic illness.”Laurence M. Merlis, president and CEO of Abington Health, said their goal is “employ population health management concepts so that the health of our employees and their dependents, and the health benefits that we provide, are improved.” He said the “triple aim” of the initiative is for the independent health systems to work together collaboratively to better manage the health of populations — and do it at a lower cost.”The three independent systems have agreed to form a limited liability company that will oversee the initiative. Each system will invest an equal amount in the initiative — the amount of which is still to be determined — and each will name an equal number of representatives to its governing board. The systems plan to conduct a search for the initiative’s executive leadership in the near future.The trio — whose geographic coverage encompasses lower Bucks County, eastern and central Bucks County and North and Northeast Philadelphia — is open to other health systems joining the initiative.“We would never not take a call from somebody interested in talking to use about expanding our capabilities and health-care access points,” Freedman said.The systems have already formed work groups focused on business planning and the human resources and technological infrastructure for the initiative. Physicians from each system will also be involved in planning as the initiative moves forward.The immediate focus is to establish the infrastructure to efficiently administer the self-insured employee benefit plans sponsored by each of the health systems. The three health systems currently spend nearly $100 million on their health benefit plans.Abington Health is the parent organization for Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington, Lansdale Hospital in Hatfield Township and three large outpatient campuses. Aria Health operates two hospital campuses in Northeast Philadelphia and a third in Lower Bucks County, along with a network of outpatient centers. Einstein Healthcare Network is the parent organization for Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, Einstein Medical Center Montgomery in East Norriton, Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park, MossRehab, Belmont Behavioral Health, Willowcrest, and several outpatient facilities. All three health systems also employ hundreds of doctors throughout the region.