The push to manage population health may be fueling consolidation across the healthcare industry, but some systems are pushing back with looser partnerships that allow them to retain some independence and present fewer regulatory hassles.
“The FTC has been very aggressive in stopping them,” said Axel Bernabe, a healthcare antitrust attorney at law firm Constantine Cannon. On the other hand, “the FTC appears to be very willing to let organizations associate.”
During the past two weeks, in markets 900 miles apart, two new non-equity alliances have been formed to pool resources, coordinate information and gain population health management expertise.
A group of 23 hospitals in central and south Georgia on July 23 introduced a not-for-profit limited liability corporation called Stratus Healthcare, which was conceived as a way for its members to collaborate while remaining independent. It grew out of the April 2012 partnership between Central Georgia Health System, Macon, and Tift Regional Health System, Tifton.
The partnership is one of the largest of its kind in the country, said William Richardson, president and CEO of Tift Regional. He added that the goals of the alliance include establishing and exchanging best practices, creating an information technology “nerve center,” reducing costs and collaborating on population health.