Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, is expanding its service-line affiliations with three hospitals outside of Nashville, two south of the city and one to the north, according to a news release.
Vanderbilt expanding service-line affiliations
The hospitals are 241-bed Maury Regional Medical Center, Columbia; 81-bed NorthCrest Medical Center, Springfield; and 184-bed Williamson Medical Center, Franklin. Two of the three hospitals already had service-line relationships with Vanderbilt, and all three will remain independent under the affiliation agreement, according to the release. The agreement provides a structure for the hospitals to form collaborations in new programs and services and the ability to eliminate overlapping and competing projects, according to the release.
Maury Regional will draw on Vanderbilt's clinical expertise and physician recruitment strengths, bolstering a partnership that includes the Vanderbilt Heart-Columbia (Tenn.) physician practice, diagnostic imaging services in Spring Hill, Tenn., inpatient neonatal intensive care and cardiac surgery services, according to the release. Williamson Medical Center already hosts surgeries for Vanderbilt physicians who work in Williamson County and the two hospitals collaborate on some service lines, the release states. NorthCrest will use the affiliation to expand its resources to improve care while remaining cost-effective, according to the release.
Developments within healthcare delivery and state and national healthcare policy are driving the formation of regional partnerships between community hospitals and academic medical centers, according to Dr. Jeff Balser, Vanderbilt University's vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
The two academic medical centers in Kentucky are pursuing different forms of collaboration with community hospital systems there, citing the same reasons as Balser.
Dr. C. Wright Pinson, vice chancellor for health affairs and CEO of Vanderbilt Health System, said Vanderbilt’s aim is to bring secondary and some tertiary care into these community hospitals and conserve space at Vanderbilt's Nashville campus for the most complex cases. That lowers the overall cost of caring for the population, as the cost structure on the Nashville campus is higher than at the community hospitals, Pinson said.
Bringing its strengths in physician recruiting and training to staff clinical programs at these sites also is what the patient wants—the Vanderbilt brand, but closer to home, Pinson said.
The affiliation agreement is not a precursor to an eventual deal, Vinson added. “They want to maintain their independence,” he said. “They are offended by someone wanting to take them over and own ’em.”
The agreement isn't designed necessarily for Medicare's accountable care organization program or an ACO-like arrangement for commercial patients, Pinson said, but it is a platform that could develop such arrangements.
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