Four of Ohio's
healthcare powerhouses—including University Hospitals and Summa Health System—have forged an alliance designed to allow the institutions to share best practices as they brace for the health industry's dramatic shift from a system that pays hospitals for the amount of services rendered to one that rewards providers for keeping people healthy.
The new independent organization, Health Innovations Ohio, also includes Columbus' Mount Carmel Health System and Cincinnati's Catholic Health Partners
, which is in the process of purchasing a 30% stake in Summa. Taken together, the four organizations involved in the new venture reach 22% of the state's health care market.
Health Innovations Ohio's infrastructure has been in place for the last 18 months, but hospital officials were mum on the arrangement until, in their eyes, it had gained some traction. The new organization, which technically is organized as a limited liability company, is steered by Jim Reber, the former CEO of Catholic Health Partners' St. Rita's Medical Center in Lima, Ohio.
“HIO is based upon the sharing of thoughts, ideas and discerning best practices and trying to adopt them with some level of consistency and uniformity across all four systems,” Mr. Reber said.
The new organization initially is focusing its work in three areas: senior health, Medicaid managed care, and population health management for the four health systems' employees and their dependents.
“As we look at the landscape, we don't exactly know where health care is going to be going, but having four major organizations around the table on a statewide basis will allow us to be prepared for the changes we will see on the horizon,” said University Hospitals CEO Tom Zenty.
The group already is touting as a success the expansion of its affiliated Medicare Advantage products — benefits offerings designed to better coordinate care, and thus control costs, for Medicare enrollees. At the start of this year, Mount Carmel's MediGold and Summa's SummaCare products were made available in northern and southwestern Ohio through providers affiliated with Catholic Health Partners and University Hospitals.
“We think there's a way to get active in the management of that population,” Summa CEO Thomas Strauss said. “In Ohio, there's a pretty strong focus on managed Medicare. We can manage that better through these kinds of relationships.”
The collective heft brought to bear by these four organizations also should prove valuable from an advocacy and lobbying standpoint, according to those involved. The group already has been in discussions with the state's Office of Health Transformation, which is grappling with how to better manage the care of Medicaid enrollees.
Health Innovations Ohio is the latest in a surge of unlikely partnerships to spring up across the country as providers grapple with health care reform.
The Cleveland Clinic
, for instance, this year announced a relationship with Community Health Systems, a for-profit health care giant based in Nashville, Tenn. Also, the Clinic recently announced an affiliation with ProMedica, a Toledo-based health system that operates 11 hospitals and more than 310 facilities.