Fourteen hospitals in southern Georgia have announced plans to form two separate organizations to increase geographical medical coverage and contract with multicounty employers and local govern ments.The proposed deals, which are not mergers, follow a trend that's developed in Georgia over the last two years in which not-for-profit and public hospitals are joining forces to form regional managed-care networks.Two factors have stimulated network formation in Georgia. One is Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s entrance to the market three years ago. It now has 18 hospitals in Georgia, 10 of which are in the Atlanta area. The second factor is the growing market penetration of managed care and employer purchasing of medical services. HMO enrollment increased to 9% of the state's population of 7 million in 1994, from 7.4% in 1992. The national average was about 20% in 1994.In souther n Georgia, four systems and four physician-hospital organizations with 300 physicians have proposed to form South Georgia Health Partners. The four systems are 155-bed Colquitt Regional Medical Center, Moultrie; 264-bed John D. Arc hbold Memorial Hospital, Thomasville; 288-bed South Georgia Medical Center, Valdosta; and 181-bed Tift General Hospital, Tifton.Seven smaller hospitals affiliated with the four systems also have agreed to join the network, which wi ll serve 26 counties. The purpose of South Georgia Health Partners is to conduct local, regional and statewide managed-care contracting, officials said.The network also is expected to develop standard physician credentials and comm on utilization management and to share other cost-saving techniques. In addition, the organization plans to offer an HMO product to employers, a spokesman said.The second proposed regional managed-care network involves three hospit als in southeastern Georgia: 418-bed Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany; 152-bed Sumter Regional Hospital, Americus; and 65-bed Crisp Regional Hospital, Cordele.The proposed network will be a vehicle to contract with employers , insurers and third-party payers, said Geoffrey Norwood, senior vice president for external affairs at Phoebe Putney. He said negotiations could be completed within six months.-
THE WEEK IN HEALTHCARE;GEORGIA HOSPITALS TO LAUNCH 2 NETWORKS
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