Grinnell Regional Medical Center announced this week it is part of an agreement to be part of the new University of Iowa Health Alliance with four of Iowa’s premier healthcare organizations.
This alliance is about building the scale and skills needed to create clinical connections and expertise for providers – both hospitals and healthcare providers.
By coming together with hospitals across the state to gather information, GRMC benefits from the large scale of clinical information for providers, data, and resources. Building a data warehouse and employing staff to manage the health of a population and the infrastructure for medical homes is expensive. This alliance pools the resources of four major institutions and their affiliated hospitals and clinics to create clinical integration. The clinical integration for providers in the Grinnell area will include setting protocols, establishing standards, and developing consistent processes to improve patient outcomes, ensure quality of care, and reduce costs.
This alliance formation helps GRMC get ahead of a wave that is slowly but surely approaching the healthcare market. The patients, in the near term, should not experience any noticeable change in the care given at GRMC or at any of the hospitals that are a part of this alliance.
“We know how to manage acute care very well. But, as we move toward payment for performance and being responsible for the health of populations we need a data warehouse to manage the health risks of the population,” explains Todd C. Linden, GRMC president and CEO.
One crucial point of this new agreement is that it is an alliance and not a merger. GRMC retains its independence and autonomy. GRMC assets remain GRMC’s and are administered by its independent volunteer-based GRMC board of directors.
“Accountable Care Organizations,” ACOs, will continue to gain momentum as a method to improve health outcomes and contain cost of healthcare.
“We spent the past year studying plans and options for ACO structures and benefits. Through our affiliation with Mercy, GRMC has been at the table as we formed the alliance. All the partner organizations realize the cost of health and the speed of the growth in the cost curve must be slowed.
It’s better to be on the front side of the change than following,” Linden says.
Insurance company actuaries know how much it costs to provide care for a population. Health providers need this information now to know their estimated costs to care for the individuals in ACOs. This alliance will bring together the skills and scale to gather that information and share best practices so that providers improve quality and efficiency.
The UIHA also emphasizes that physicians and healthcare providers should moderate the dialogue with the patient yet work with professional management for the best operations. The physicians and the involved individuals at GRMC agree that this is an intelligent and intuitive choice. Providers pool together clinical information to improve patient outcomes and quality of care.
Linden further explains, “We anticipate that this decision will create a symbiotic working relationship between a large group of excellent hospitals in the state and benefit the patient. We’re at a tipping point in healthcare. Access to clinical data will help providers realize a clear direction for patient care. Whether the Affordable Care Act continues or not, changes in healthcare are happening at a very rapid pace. The pressure from the market drives change.
“As a nation, the government, corporations, and individuals can not afford healthcare. Changes in the delivery are coming and GRMC cannot be an island. We’re not big enough to take on the risks of change or not changing. With this alliance, we can be at the table and have a say in the future of healthcare, which ultimately benefits our patients and our community,” Linden says.