Tufts Medical Center, Vanguard Health Systems and a physician network in Massachusetts said they are in talks to develop a joint venture that would provide a flexible alternative to hospitals looking to join a larger health system.
A definitive agreement is expected to be reached this year on the formation of the new health system, according to a spokesman for Nashville-based Vanguard.
Vanguard owns 18 hospitals, including 158-bed MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., and 297-bed St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester.
The partnership would feature two for-profit joint ventures, said Eric Beyer, president and CEO of Boston's 279-bed Tufts Medical Center, which includes the Floating Hospital for Children.
One venture would provide physicians with the infrastructure and tools needed to participate in an accountable care organization. Tufts, Vanguard and the New England Quality Care Alliance are considering including tools or assistance for chronic care and population health management, administrative services for providers, new insurance products and direct-to-employer services.
The second joint venture would focus on forming partnerships with hospitals in Massachusetts, whether through clinical affiliations, mergers or acquisitions. Vanguard would make majority investments in those hospitals and Tufts would make minority investments, Beyer said.
"This will be an innovative partnership unlike anything Massachusetts has seen to date," Beyer said in a news release
. "This system will deliver for patients and providers on cost, service and quality. It offers an excellent option for physicians and hospitals who are exploring potential alignments as we move toward building accountable care organizations."
Also as part of the joint venture, Tufts would take a minority investment in MetroWest Medical Center, according to the Vanguard spokesman.
The spokesman said the joint venture is a direct response to the recent consolidation in the Massachusetts hospital market. There have been at least five affiliations or acquisitions between Massachusetts hospitals since January.
"Our intent is to provide a kindler, gentler alternative to some of these community hospitals," the spokesman said.