Newswise — Baltimore, Maryland – February 24, 2015. Five major independent Maryland-based health systems with a combined total of ten hospitals have formalized an agreement to create the Advanced Health Collaborative, LLC, (AHC) an organization that will offer its members the ability, without merger, to share ideas and explore opportunities to enhance the quality of health care, reduce costs and improve the health of people in the State of Maryland – a concept known as the “Triple Aim.”
The AHC members are Adventist HealthCare, LifeBridge Health, Mercy Health Services, Peninsula Regional Health System and Trivergent Health Alliance which includes Frederick Regional Health System, Meritus Health, and Western Maryland Health System.
“Because of recent changes in how Maryland hospitals are reimbursed for the care they provide, our health systems have new opportunities and challenges,” says Robb Cohen, AHC chief executive officer. “By joining together in the Advanced Health Collaborative, we plan to harness the collective strengths of our members, putting them in a stronger position to advance common interests and goals, including providing higher quality care with greater cost efficiency.”
The agreement comes as all hospital systems in Maryland move into their second year under a new global budget reimbursement system. Since January 1, 2014, Maryland hospitals have received a predetermined reimbursement that is based on the size of the populations they serve, rather than payment for each service they provide. The shift to a global budget means hospital systems now focus more on the value of care they provide while treating illness and less on patient volumes. The ultimate goal of the global budget system is for hospitals to better manage the health of the people they serve.
To achieve this goal, many hospital systems are now focusing on primary care and prevention under a new approach to health care known as “population health,” which includes using many community-based programs such as helping people to coordinate their medical care or manage their prescriptions. Hospitals may also help arrange access to behavioral treatments and a broad range of social services. By helping people in their communities stay well, health systems should reduce the number of hospital admissions and costs while continuing to develop ways to improve the quality of health care, fulfilling the goals of the Triple Aim.
“Population health and the need for improved care coordination represent a new era for Maryland health systems. As these hospitals seek to navigate these changing waters, AHC will work with our members on potential projects to help them achieve these goals. AHC initiatives could involve collaborations on population health and care coordination programs, and could include cost savings through shared population health and care coordination resources or services,” says Cohen.
AHC also offers members a collective and collaborative voice in discussions regarding the changing health care landscape in Maryland. AHC may serve as an advocate for its members in discussions with the state and federal agencies that work on policies that affect AHC members. AHC might also work with other organizations (such as physician groups, long-term care providers and other stakeholders in the health care industry) to explore potential regional or statewide initiatives to meet the shared goals of population health.
A key benefit of AHC membership will be the opportunity for shared learning and collaboration, allowing partners to manage changes in health care more efficiently and effectively than any single organization could on its own. Ideas may come from individual partners themselves or from examples of other national programs. With a unified focus on improving health for their patients and communities, AHC allows members to go farther together while maintaining their independence and autonomy.
“For Maryland hospitals, the shift to the global budget system requires a whole new way of thinking and doing business, which can be both exciting and daunting,” explains Cohen. “We believe that by sharing ideas and working together, AHC members will be more successful in transitioning to this new model of care and achieve faster and better results. This will ultimately benefit their health systems, physicians and other care providers, but, most importantly, it will be a valuable asset for the people in Maryland.”
For more information about the Advanced Health Collaborative, go to www.ahcmaryland.org