Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and UnitedHealth Group’s Optum Washington have partnered, designating Virginia Mason Medical Center as the physician group’s main acute-care referral center.
Tacoma, Washington-based Virginia Mason Franciscan will initially partner with Optum Washington’s Polyclinic, a 200-physician practice in the Seattle area. Optum Washington will also help manage Virginia Mason Franciscan’s 25,000 Medicare Advantage patients.
The partnership will broaden Virginia Mason’s reach, and Optum’s analytical expertise will help direct patients to the most appropriate care settings, said Ketul Patel, CEO of Virginia Mason Franciscan and president of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health’s Pacific Northwest division.
“If you look at the growth of Optum in the state and our network, which is the only one that covers the entire Puget Sound, the partnership makes sense,” he said. “We continue to grow the number of Medicare Advantage lives within Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, and Optum Washington will help us continue to focus on population health, take on more risk and improve clinical outcomes.”
The long-term partnership does not include a financial component, said Patel, who did not offer any details about timing or scope. Polyclinic physicians will not replace any existing medical staff at Virginia Mason Medical Center, a spokesperson said.
Optum Washington had a relationship with Providence Swedish in Seattle for many years, Ketul noted. Renton, Washington-based Providence did not immediately provide a comment.
Virginia Mason merged with CHI Franciscan in 2021 to form Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, a CommonSpirit subsidiary. In February, the 10-hospital system launched a hospital-at-home program with Contessa Health, an Amedisys company that specializes in home care.
Optum, which provides care, manages prescription plans and offers technology support, has been growing rapidly as its parent UnitedHealth Group builds on its vertically integrated model. Earlier this week, home health company Amedisys agreed to be acquired by Optum in an all-cash transaction for an estimated $3.3 billion.
UnitedHealth Group closed its $5.4 billion acquisition of LHC Group, a home health and hospice provider, in February. The Federal Trade Commission reviewed the transaction but declined to formally intervene.