Academic medical centers may be changing their tune toward managed care after a collaboration agreement was announced last week between Johns Hopkins Health System and Blue Bell, Pa.-based U.S. Healthcare.
The collaboration is designed to improve clinical services and develop an integrated network of providers for U.S. Healthcare's 12,000 Maryland enrollees.
"We must work as partners with managed-care organizations to build on our mutual strengths," said James Block, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Johns Hopkins Health System.
Teaching hospitals traditionally have shied away from managed care because it emphasizes cost containment, and academic facilities are more costly to operate than commu-nity hospitals. Academic medical centers are more expensive because they offer medical research, graduate medical education and the ability to provide a wide range of specialized patient care.
For example, teaching hospitals' costs can be from 28% to 41% higher than community hospitals' costs, according to the federal Prospective Payment Assessment Commission (Feb. 7, p. 37).
But executives with U.S. Healthcare and Johns Hopkins as well as industry observers said academic medical centers and managed-care organizations need each other. They said the HMO needs to offer the variety and quality of services Johns Hopkins can provide, and Johns Hopkins needs the patients the managed-care company can refer to it.
"This accord will be viewed as a milestone in relationship building between a leading managed-care organization and one of America's finest academic medical centers at a critical time in our nation's healthcare reform movement," said Leonard Abramson, chairman and CEO of U.S. Healthcare.
Among the projects to be undertaken in the new relationship are a joint information system and quality-assessment system.
U.S. Healthcare eventually may launch relationships in other markets. The company also provides managed care through HMOs in seven other states and the District of Columbia.
The Johns Hopkins Hospital, owned by Johns Hopkins Health System, has been profitable, according to the latest financial information available from HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare research firm. In 1992, the teaching hospital posted net income of $1.1 million on net revenues of $401 million, HCIA said.
Figures on estimated revenue from the U.S. Healthcare contract and other details of the agreement weren't available.