CareUnity News December 2010

December 9, 2010 - Providence Health Care and Group Health collaborate to improve health care system in Spokane

SPOKANE – Providence Health Care (PHC) and Group Health have signed a
Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the development of an innovative
health care delivery system that will transform health care delivery in the Spokane
region. The Memorandum of Understanding will allow the organizations to begin
conversations with other care providers, as appropriate, who share the same principles
and goals and who complement a fully integrated system of care capable of serving the
eastern Washington/North Idaho region.

“Our goal is to create a system that is increasingly convenient for our patients and our
members to use, provides better coordination of care among primary care physicians
and specialists, and promotes prevention and wellness,” says Andy Agwunobi, MD,
chief executive for PHC. “When we accomplish our goal, the end result will be better
health outcomes for patients and better value that will bring down costs and remove
affordability as a barrier to care.”

Joint planning is already under way to design the care model with PHC, Group Health,
and other key providers in the community. “Together we will develop physician-led
practices for supporting the full continuum of care for our patients—from preventive
visits, to consultations with specialists, to hospitalization, rehabilitation and recovery,”
says Michael Soman, MD, president and chief medical executive for Group Health
Physicians. ”With this kind of collaboration, we can create a comprehensive, locallygrown
health system that provides a patient-centered, seamless system of care by
bringing clinicians across the community together to coordinate care for members and
patients,” says Soman.

“We believe this is real health reform—and it begins at home, right here in Spokane,”
says James Hereford, Group Health Group Practice Division executive vice president.
“We are excited to share the lessons we’ve learned in our own system with patients
throughout the community. Both Providence and Group Health are committed to finding
a better way of delivering care. Today we’re letting our community know what we’re
planning, so that we can have conversations with others who wish to be a part of our
vision,” says Hereford.

According to Agwunobi, Group Health and Providence complement one another,
providing the vast majority of services a patient will need throughout his or her lifetime.
“The next logical step is to better coordinate care among all these services, making it
easier for patients and members to get the care they need—whether it’s an imaging
service, physical therapy, prescription, outpatient surgical procedure, hospital stay,
long-term care in a nursing home or in-home service,” says Agwunobi.

“We’ll be looking at how we can better share clinical information, develop joint clinical
programs, standardize best practices, and develop new models of provider payment
that make it easier for clinicians to practice medicine the way it should be practiced—
with payment based on providing value instead of producing volume,” said Tom Schaaf,
MD, Group Health assistant district medical director for the Spokane region.