The partnership allows each organization to maintain its legacy and independence, while promoting clinical integration and care coordination. It does not involve a merger of assets or changes in ownership or control. The structure is designed to sustain and honor the members’ local missions and governance authorities, while participating in a larger effort to lead needed changes in the health care system. The alliance also is designed to encourage additional health care providers in Iowa and contiguous states to join and participate in these important initiatives.
Examples of specific UIHA efforts include:
- Strengthening primary care to ensure Iowans have access to a “medical home,” through which they can receive preventive services and improved coordination of care across settings and levels of clinical services and specialties.
- Assisting members in developing performance metrics and comparative reporting to support improvement efforts, i.e. using comparative data to identify and share best practices and reduce the variations in care, which will improve quality and lower costs.
- Developing programs to determine and address the health status of communities served.
- Developing educational programs for health care providers, patients and consumers.
- Developing techniques and systems for improving patients’ engagement in managing their health.
- Sharing the high costs of the information systems and experts needed to analyze clinical data and convert it into information that can be used by physicians and others to improve care and better manage populations of patients with chronic diseases.
- Sharing expertise and operational costs associated with development of “accountable care” initiatives, enabling the members to evaluate and participate in programs offered by governmental and commercial insurance.
- Collaborating in research initiatives.
“We believe by working together we can achieve the necessary expertise and size – the skill and scale – to be successful into the future and to bring real value to our patients and communities,” said Dave Vellinga, president and CEO of Mercy Health Network.
Doug Cropper, president and CEO of Genesis Health System, agreed saying, “Lowering costs and improving quality requires organizations to work together to share best practices, reduce variation, streamline care and, most importantly, improve the health status of populations of patients. We are excited to have so many of Iowa’s hospitals and clinics committed to real improvement in their organizations and their communities.”
Mercy – Cedar Rapids President & CEO Tim Charles noted, “We also want to provide the opportunity for other independent health care providers to associate with or use the accountable care infrastructure and services of UIHA. The beauty of this alliance is that each participant can maintain its independence while enjoying all the benefits of the larger network’s capabilities and cost savings. The changes occurring in health care delivery and financing are daunting, and we all look forward to working together to create success in the future environment.”
Jean Robillard, M.D., vice president for medical affairs at the University of Iowa, noted the alliance is a natural extension of the collaboration recently announced with Mercy – Cedar Rapids. “As I noted at that time, we share a commitment to providing access to high-quality health care with a focus on building healthier communities. This collaboration is an outstanding opportunity to extend UI Health Care’s mission to serve all Iowans.”
The executives said UIHA strives not only to provide value, but to create person-centered care in a better coordinated system. “We want to engage patients in new ways to help them maintain their health, thereby reducing their need for higher levels of health care services,” said Dr. David Swieskowski, the senior accountable care executive at Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines. “Each member organization brings successes to the larger group – successes in improving quality, in streamlining care, and in pro-actively working with patients to improve and maintain their health. Working together to reduce the variation and streamline care will benefit everyone – the patient, the payer and the community.”