With health systems linking across the country, three state provider associations have also formed what organizers say is the first alliance of its kind across state lines.
The California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, and the Washington State Hospital Association have formed the Associations
Pacific Health Association. The new organization is a not-for-profit alliance to provide information, support and representation to current and future members, the associations said.
The groups represent more than 95% of the hospitals and health systems in the region.
The alliance makes sense because "a number of our health plans and systems cross all three states," said Kenneth Rutledge, president of the Oregon association.
In addition, "you can't look at things from a state-border perspective anymore," Rutledge said. For example, the Vancouver, Wash., market is "really part of the Portland (Ore.) metro area."
Another consideration is "our members are telling us (that) just as they are beginning to cooperate across state lines, they want to see the same thing happening with their associations," Rutledge said. For instance, members pay dues to all three associations. That may change because the alliance will help contain administrative costs.
In addition, purchasers often launch multistate initiatives with providers, Rutledge said. For example, he added, San Francisco-based Pacific Business Group on Health is targeting the Portland metro area and Seattle with a project involving quality indicators. "If we're going to have regional approaches from purchasers or from HMOs, we decided we needed to plot Pacific strategies and do a little better job of sharing information," he said.
The alliance's first project will be a regular newsletter focusing on topics of interest across all three states. Other projects will be an on-demand facsimile, a computer inquiry network and a computerized on-line library.
The new group also will pursue a link with the American Hospital Association to explore how the AHA can add value to the alliance, Rutledge said.