Stratus Healthcare billed itself as the largest hospital alliance in the Southeast when it was formed this summer.
Since then, health industry officials have wondered: What is this new collection of independent hospitals all about?
If nothing else, Stratus is growing. The number of its hospitals has risen in a few months from 23 to 29. They are spread across Middle and South Georgia, and many are smaller, rural facilities.
Ninfa Saunders, president and CEO of Central Georgia Health System in Macon, and one of the leaders of Stratus, told GHN recently that member hospitals meet monthly to discuss collaboration on clinical services, information technology, and ways to better manage the health of area residents.
Saunders said member hospitals may eventually go beyond a loose alignment of interests and conclude management agreements, joint ventures or even joint operating agreements. full story
Mayo Clinic’s recently announced collaboration with a Columbus hospital may signal other Georgia ventures for the renowned Minnesota-based health system.
St. Francis hospital becomes the first Georgia organization to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Under the agreement, its physicians will be able to connect with Mayo specialists on questions of complex care using an electronic consulting technique. Mayo will supply other informational tools as well.
St. Francis hospital in Columbus
Last year, Mayo Clinic acquired a health system in Waycross that included a hospital and two nursing homes. But future Mayo alliances in the South won’t be ownership deals but will be more like the St. Francis agreement, Mayo Clinic spokesman Kevin Punsky told GHN last week.
“We’re looking at a number of hospitals in Georgia and the Southeast,’’ Punsky said. Mayo Clinic already has a main campus in Jacksonville, Fla., roughly 80 miles from Waycross.
All across Georgia and the nation, hospitals are scrambling to forge alliances to survive the rapid changes shaking the health care business. full story
The future of health care will feature greater use of electronic medical data, and more patients will be involved in their own care, a panel of health officials said Tuesday.
Through technology and other changes, “we’re going to have better health care and lower costs,’’ Dennis White, president and CEO of Alliant Health Solutions, told an audience at the Health IT Leadership Summit in Atlanta.
Deborah Cancilla, chief information officer at Grady Health System, added that electronic medical records are already boosting quality by curbing errors in hospitals.
Technology in the health field has gotten a black eye recently with malfunctions in the new online Affordable Care Act insurance exchange, but many technological advances have already made health care more efficient. And the panel’s medical data message appeared to play well with the audience of health IT professionals. Atlanta is a leading center of that industry.
A revolution in health information technology can help bend the cost and quality curves in medical care, experts say. Currently, the United States far outspends any other country in health care, but its medical outcomes lag those of other industrialized nations.
“Mathematically, when we look ahead, it’s unsustainable,’’ said Robert Hendricks of McKesson Technology Solutions, a large health IT company based in Alpharetta. full story
The commissioner of the Department of Community Health on Thursday upheld the award of the state employees’ health benefits contract to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia.
The decision comes a day before open enrollment closes to members of the State Health Benefit Plan, which covers more than 650,000 state employees, schoolteachers, other school personnel, retirees and dependents.
Clyde Reese, the DCH commissioner, also upheld the award of the pharmacy benefits management contract to Express Scripts.
The contract award sparked intense criticism from UnitedHealthcare, which charged that the bidding process was flawed and needed to be redone.
United currently holds the SHBP contract, along with Cigna, which also protested the award. That contract expires at the end of the year.
Blue Cross emphasized in a two-day hearing last month that its contract will save the state more than $1.5 billion.
Reese noted that state law allows DCH “the flexibility to pursue the approach that provides the best value in the state’s interest.’’ full story