Hospital and health system CEOs from central and south Georgia announced their plans to participate in a newly formed alliance which will create one of the nation's largest collaborations of hospitals, healthcare systems and physicians aligned to develop a clinically-integrated network.
The alliance, to be called Stratus Healthcare, consists of 23 hospitals and approximately 1,500 physicians.
Hospital and physician leaders from each hospital system assembled for a news conference in Greensboro Tuesday, stating that the goal of Stratus Healthcare is to enhance the health and wellness of residents in their communities by improving the regional coordination of medical services.
These nearby member hospitals and respective medical staff physicians are included in the new alliance:
• Medical Center of Central Georgia (Macon)
• Central Georgia Rehabilitation Hospital (Macon)
• Jasper Memorial Hospital (Monticello)
• Oconee Regional Medical Center (Milledgeville)
• Putnam General Hospital (Eatonton)
Stratus, a non-equity partnership at the outset, expects to form a non-profit limited liability corporation, pooling both human capital and financial resources to meet its mission and vision. Members of Stratus Healthcare will work together in a formalized partnership to exchange best practices, combine resources, develop coordinated information systems, reduce costs and manage the health of populations.
Member hospitals like ORMC will take advantage of a shared services model yet remain independent.
The work will be conducted through work groups with representatives from each partner hospital. All collaborative information will remain transparent to members' hospital employees.
Initially, the Stratus Healthcare work groups will explore primary care, emergency medicine, hospitalist and specialty care networks to include the development of clinical guidelines, telemedicine connections, transfer arrangements and the sharing of outcomes data.
ORMC President/CEO Jean Aycock said for patients served under the local hospital scope the alliance means working with hospitals smaller and larger to assure seamless care.
“It will mean more strategic placement of physicians, medical services and specialists in smaller communities like ours, which can be very costly and difficult without partnerships like this one. I believe this alliance will allow us to focus on what we do really well for patients and if a hand off to a higher level of care is needed, we can achieve those transitions with better clinical information shared about the patient, knowing evidence based practices are used that will improve individual outcomes and ultimately overall health for our community. By working together under this Alliance, we will find more innovative ways to handle challenges, further reduce our costs and bring improved value to our patients,” Aycock said in support of the Tuesday news.
Georgia Health System (CGHS) in Macon, Ga. and Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) in Tifton, Ga. first announced a partnership in April 2012, and respective presidents/CEOs Dr. Ninfa Saunders and William T. Richardson have worked since October to develop the partnership framework and recruit members for the alliance. Saunders and Richardson said that Stratus Healthcare partners share a common vision for the future and the affiliation provides an alternative to mergers and acquisitions.
“The collaborative wants to elevate health care to a higher level,” Richardson said in a press release. “We wanted an organizational title that reflects our mission to enhance the health and wellness of our patients by delivering exceptional care through a connected community of physicians, hospitals and shared services. Each Stratus partner wants to add value for patients and create scale, yet realizes it could be accomplished much easier through a coordinated effort with other health care organizations.”
In the future, primary care doctors and specialists will need to work closer together on a regional scale to develop clinical guidelines and data sharing. The timely exchange of electronic patient information is becoming increasingly important to improve quality and prevent duplication or over-utilization of healthcare services.
Stratus will coordinate and support physicians in this endeavor.
“Federal healthcare reform will require that medical care be reimbursed based on a fee-for-value framework rather than the fee-for-service model used in the past,” said Saunders. “Stratus Healthcare will create the delivery model for this transformation.”
Saunders added that Stratus would serve as a vehicle to keep health care local with the goal to improve outcomes, enhance the patient experience and increase efficiency as required by health care reform.
“It's about the right care, the right access at the right cost,” said Saunders. Aycock said the “keep it local” ideal guides the healthcare consortium.
“It's important to our medical staff, board and community that we are organizing as a voluntary collective, so each organization maintains our individual identities and services to our communities, while accessing the great ideas, programs and expertise that these hospitals and physicians all have to share with one another as we move down an important path to healthier patients, communities and regions,” the ORMC CEO said.
For more information, visit www.stratushealthcare.org.
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