Baylor Scott & White's clinically integrated network and the Texas-based primary care network Catalyst Health Network have formed a partnership focused on reducing healthcare costs and improving access for northern Texas residents.
The partnership, announced this week, will involve the Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance and the Catalyst Health Network working together to influence new services and cost of insurance by employers and insurers in the North Texas region.
"What we are really looking for as we come together are where are there opportunities where we can serve better, serve more efficiently (and) connect with like-minded employers who may want to explore some options beyond what they are currently using," said Jim Hinton, CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health. "This is not to replicate what you would typically know of as networks or combinations of networks; it is primarily around innovation and thinking about new ways to bring healthcare to people that they don't have today."
Both organizations have a large footprint of physicians in the north Texas region. Most of Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance's more than 7,500 primary and specialty care physicians are based in the area, as are 700 of Catalyst's 1,000 primary care physicians in the state.
"We are coming together with no intent of using that leverage to go to an employer or payer to get a better price for our services just because we are large and big," said Dr. Christopher Crow, CEO of Catalyst Health Network. "It is absolutely to do something that hasn't been done in the last 25-30 years in our country, which is actually to add value back to the people who purchase healthcare and receive healthcare."
Leaders at Baylor and Catalyst had been in talks about partnering before the pandemic, but COVID-19 accelerated it. "The global crisis happens to be in healthcare, and you add the racial tensions that arose this summer that highlighted some of the disparities," Crow said. "You really have to think of all to have a thriving community ... The status quo isn't providing anything but an accelerate of costs and no improvement in quality or outcomes."
The partnership is still determining how it will influence employers and insurers in the region, but Hinton pointed to Baylor's recent contract with American Airlines as an example of the possibilities. Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance announced this year it developed an employee-sponsored health plan for American Airlines employees.
"We don't have a laundry list of examples of how we have done this because we are just getting started but we do have some individual experiences like American Airlines where the two organizations came together and did something that neither was able to do separately," Hinton said.
Crow added that the increased use of telehealth may offer opportunities to provide better access to care as well.
North Texas has higher healthcare spending than the national average, largely due to its highly healthcare consolidated market and booming economy.
"Coming together with the goal of anyway contributing to that problem (of rising healthcare costs) is not on our radar," Hinton said. "We want to help bring some higher value ... to the marketplace."