HACKENSACK,N.J.—Seven systems that include 25 hospitals in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania are banding together in an alliance seeking the benefits of scale without the complications of merging assets. Providers clearly believe bigger is better in this era, and these systems are the latest to explore a kind of affiliation that does away with formal integration, and instead focuses on managing population health and increasing their joint purchasing power. Known as AllSpire Health Partners, the alliance brings together systems with combined revenue of $10.5 billion. Members of AllSpire Health Partners also include Atlantic Health System, Morristown, N.J.; Hackensack (N.J.) University Health Network; Lancaster (Pa.) General Health; Meridian Health, Neptune, N.J.; Reading (Pa.) Health System; and WellSpan Health, York, Pa. The participants call it the biggest such alliance in the country, but it's hardly the first. In July, more than 20 hospitals in central and south Georgia formed Stratus Healthcare, a consortium that now includes about 2,000 physicians and more than 18,700 employees. Earlier that month, three systems in the Philadelphia area similarly formed a limited liability corporation to gain population health management expertise, beginning with managing healthcare benefits for their combined 32,000 employees. AllSpire, likewise, will start with the systems' own employees as the “training wheels,” said Dr. Ron Swinfard, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa. Karen Kessler, chairwoman of the boards of trustees at both Atlantic and AllSpire, said each of the systems will make a “seven figure” contribution to its new LLC. “This is serious,” she said.
HARTFORD, CONN.—On the heels of the Institute of Medicine calling U.S. cancer care “increasingly chaotic and costly,” Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York is starting an alliance of community cancer providers. It named Hartford HealthCare, a five-hospital system in Connecticut, as the inaugural member. The Manhattan-based comprehensive cancer institution said physicians and leaders in the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Alliance will work together to improve cancer care and clinical research through the use of disease management teams, on-site observations of new techniques, sharing of educational resources, quality and outcomes research and expanded access to Memorial Sloan-Kettering's clinical trials. “Currently, the vast majority of cancer care in the United States is delivered by community oncologists, but cancer advances can take years to be adopted in a community setting,” Dr. Jose Baselga, physician-in-chief of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said in the release. “We want to rapidly accelerate the pace of integrating the latest advances of cancer care into a community setting.” The IOM concluded in a report this month that community oncologists don't always follow clinical treatment guidelines and struggle to keep up with genomic advances that have made treatment more complex and more expensive.
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