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The President's View

Innovative Health Alliance

by Jim Connolly 17. June 2014

Healthcare is undergoing rapid transformation. The bold changes and challenges we face require bold responses, unprecedented collaboration and innovation.

Today, Ellis Medicine and St. Peter’s Health Partners announced our intentions to form a regional alliance that will provide the platform for the two systems to explore a variety of collaborative opportunities. This will include the creation and operation of the Capital Region’s first innovative Clinically Integrated Network (CIN) that will focus on access, quality, population health and health costs.

A CIN is a partnership among physicians, hospital(s) and/or health system(s), collectively committed to active, ongoing clinical initiatives designed to control costs and improve the quality of health care services. The new physician-led CIN will allow private physician groups, SPHP, Ellis and other providers to work together in coordinating and improving the delivery of health care, as well as participating in new methods of reimbursement. Ellis Medicine and St. Peter’s are creating the initial legal structure and funding the information technology and administrative infrastructure that will help establish this new physician health system partnership.

Let me be clear, these talks are not aimed at a merger. Both SPHP and Ellis will continue to maintain independent governance, organizations and assets in other areas of their operations.

Physicians will play a key role in the CIN’s governance, design and operation, and we will be reaching out to private physicians and other health systems in the weeks and months ahead as it is envisioned and encouraged that others will join Ellis and SPHP in this initiative. We have already been in active discussions with St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam and Hometown Health (a regional Federally Qualified Health Center) and look forward to their being a critical part of our new alliance.

The new CIN will examine a number of key opportunities for collaboration including creation of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) that would apply to become part of the federal government’s Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). If approved by the federal government, this ACO will specifically benefit Medicare patients in the region by incentivizing doctors and hospitals to work together to coordinate patient care, while requiring that they meet stringent standards for the quality of patient care. Other key objectives of the new venture are improving the patient experience, improving the health of the population, and creating more affordable health care (the “Triple Aim” as defined by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement).

To oversee the new venture, the governing boards of SPHP and Ellis have approved creation of a new limited liability company (LLC), to be called Innovative Health Alliance of New York.

Why Here, Why Now?

It is unusual for two otherwise competing systems to work together in this way, but the challenges and shifting health care landscape require bold new collaborative leadership. For those who ask, “Why here and why now?” our answer is clear:

  • because the Capital Region has all the potential for innovation as noted a year ago by renowned healthcare thought leader Dr. Atul Gawande.  The ACO concept is just one of many cutting-edge improvements to healthcare quality and cost that we aim to implement on a regional level;
  • because Ellis Medicine and St. Peter’s Health Partners share a common vision and commitment to high quality ,lower cost health care delivery for the overall improvement of community wellness;
  • because the health and well-being of our patients, our physicians, and our community demand that we take bold steps and take maximum advantage of the opportunity for change that our current environment – in national healthcare innovation and in regional collaboration – offers us.

 Please read the press release and leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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