Six hospitals and healthcare systems in the Pittsburgh area and physician leaders at those institutions are developing an integrated delivery network in a six-county region of southwest Pennsylvania.
The Southwest Integrated Delivery Network includes Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital, Forbes Health System, Shadyside Hospital, St. Clair Hospital, Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights and Sewickley (Pa.) Valley Hospital.
Five of the six network participants are members of VHA Pennsylvania, a 35-member regional network of the national VHA. Network negotiations stemmed from VHA Pennsylvania's effort to educate members about integrated delivery systems and the changing healthcare environment. The network isn't a VHA initiative per se, but VHA Pennsylvania is providing administrative staffing assistance.
The network expects competition from other networks that may emerge from ongoing negotiations among various providers. Southwestern Integrated Delivery Network hopes to serve one-third of the population, or 850,000 people.
The network is looking at joint-venture opportunities with insurers but hasn't ruled out the possibility of contracting directly with groups and bearing the insurance risk itself.
Each of the six partners kicked in $250,000 to fund start-up costs. A business plan is being developed and should be completed by early fall. It will include a capitalization budget and other details of the network's operations, said Annette Fetchko, director of marketing and communications for VHA Pennsylvania and its affiliated PPO, ALPHA Health Network.
Currently, members are studying ways to eliminate duplication and maximize resources. The network also will seek to add other hospitals and providers and integrate with physicians through physician-hospital organizations, Ms. Fetchko said.