May 21, 2013
UW Medicine and PeaceHealth have signed a groundbreaking Letter of Intent to create a strategic affiliation that will provide patients throughout much of Washington and Alaska with access to the most comprehensive care available in the Pacific Northwest.
The Letter of Intent, which was signed today [May 20] is expected to be memorialized in further definitive agreements by Sept. 30, 2013. The agreement will bring together two mission-driven, not-for-profit health systems – each with a focus on evidence-based medicine, community health improvement and cost effective care – to provide a full continuum of services as envisioned under health care reform.
The two organizations will remain legally separate and independent; governance will not be affected. No government regulatory approval is required.
“This affiliation allows us to coordinate care and services with a respected health care organization that has deep roots in the region and shares our passion for serving everyone in the community regardless of their ability to pay,” said Johnese Spisso, Chief Health System Officer for UW Medicine. “Together, our systems provide an extraordinary amount of charity care to patients across the state of Washington.”
UW Medicine wrote off $325 million in charity care charges equating to $142 million in costs for charity care in FY 12. For the same time period, PeaceHealth wrote off almost $100 million charity care charges equating to $40 million in costs for charity care.
PeaceHealth and UW Medicine are committed to training the next generation of health care professionals. Both organizations will work together to develop and expand community-based training sites for UW School of Medicine students and trainees in the communities PeaceHealth serves in Washington and Alaska. The affiliation provides an opportunity to improve care delivery and respond to the changes needed to implement health care reform successfully.
“The strategic affiliation between PeaceHealth and UW Medicine offers significant benefits to people in our geographic region due to the opportunity to provide the full continuum of care – primary through quaternary levels – more seamlessly and with a unique patient experience,” said Peter Adler, Chief Strategy Officer for PeaceHealth. Quaternary care is the highest level of care for services that are the most advanced and specialized.
The Letter of Intent outlines opportunities the organizations could pursue together, including ongoing performance improvement initiatives to reduce costs and clinical programming to increase access to specialized services such as cardiovascular care, high-risk obstetrics and neonatology, cancer care, behavioral health and neurosciences.
“PeaceHealth selected UW Medicine to be its preferred health system for complex tertiary and quaternary care in the Seattle area,” said Alan Yordy, President and Chief Mission Officer for PeaceHealth. “This will give our patients enhanced access to services that we do not provide, including the benefit of better coordination of care by securely linking our medical record systems so that patients are able to move seamlessly between our organizations.”
Both systems call the affiliation a huge step forward in meeting the needs of the whole patient as well as whole communities more effectively.
“PeaceHealth and UW Medicine have worked together informally for years,” said Dr. Paul Ramsey, Chief Executive Officer for UW Medicine, “and we are excited to collaborate at a deeper level to further our progress around continuity of care, evidence-based protocols and access to care in the local community by expert clinicians who are working together to improve the health of the community.”
In its role as the region’s only fully comprehensive health care organization covering all levels of patient care and serving as the educational institution for a five-state region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho), UW Medicine will continue to serve patients from all communities, hospitals, clinics to meet their needs for complex tertiary and quaternary care.
Why create a strategic collaboration?
In recognition of the mission of the two health systems to improve the health of the community, UW Medicine and PeaceHealth plan to work together to further the ‘triple aim’ of better care for individuals, better health for populations and lower per capita costs. With the backdrop of healthcare reform, we believe this is a perfect opportunity for both organizations to enhance access for patients throughout much of Washington and Alaska and improve continuity of care.
What will the arrangement mean?
The proposed collaboration will support creation of an infrastructure within which to work to increase access to care in the community that will benefit patients throughout the region. The proposed arrangement does not involve a change in ownership or governance of either UW Medicine or PeaceHealth. By creating a network of care, we can better meet the healthcare needs of the region.
Why is PeaceHealth interested?
PeaceHealth and UW Medicine have a shared commitment to improving the health of the community through providing accessible, high-quality, coordinated and cost-effective patient care. We see opportunities to enhance services such as cardiovascular care, high-risk obstetrics and neonatology, cancer care, behavioral health and neurosciences. We also seek to create a patient experience that provides seamless access to the complex tertiary and quaternary services, when needed, within the UW Medicine system. Additionally, we will strengthen the existing relationship of PeaceHealth with the UW School of Medicine to provide increased opportunities for training the next generation of healthcare professionals.
Why is UW Medicine interested?
UW Medicine has a long-standing informal relationship with PeaceHealth and we see opportunities for collaboration on a number of fronts that will enhance care and outcomes as described above. The proposed arrangement creates a platform upon which to share best practices as well as provide us greater opportunities to train healthcare professionals in community settings.
Both UW Medicine and PeaceHealth are transforming to be accountable care organizations which will further comprehensive and coordinated access to care for the region or population.
How will this benefit patients and communities?
Patients and communities across much of Washington and Alaska will have seamless access to the full range of care – primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary – with a focus on evidence-based medicine, community health and cost-effective care.
Why did UW Medicine choose PeaceHealth?
PeaceHealth is a strong organization with a deep commitment to community. UW Medicine and PeaceHealth share in a commitment to provide high-quality care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Together the two health systems provide the lion’s share of charity care to the public in the regions they serve.
Does this preclude either organization from affiliating with other health systems?
Does the proposed arrangement change or restrict any clinical services within UW Medicine?
Will patients be able to choose their healthcare professional?
Yes. The proposed arrangement does not require referrals between and among PeaceHealth and UW Medicine. Patients are free to select the healthcare professional of choice.
Does this mean that PeaceHealth hospitals will become teaching hospitals?
Across the region, UW Medicine has clinical teaching affiliations with a number of hospitals and clinics, including those of PeaceHealth. This collaboration will strengthen an existing and ongoing relationship and commitment to train future healthcare professionals.
Are there any regulatory approvals required for this type of collaboration?
No government regulatory approval is needed. The operations of each organization are remaining separate and under each organization’s existing governance and each bears the costs of its own activities.
Is Catholic Church approval required?
Will the affiliation change either organization’s mission and values?
No. Each organization will continue to adhere to its own mission and values.
Both UW Medicine and PeaceHealth have responded to RFPs with hospitals in Skagit Valley. How will this alliance affect that process?
UW Medicine and PeaceHealth seek to move forward in the RFP process in recognition of this affiliation.
About UW Medicine
UW Medicine’s mission is to improve the health of the public by advancing medical knowledge, providing outstanding primary and specialty care to the people of the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) region, and preparing tomorrow’s physicians, scientists and other health professionals. UW Medicine includes Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians, UW School of Medicine and Airlift Northwest.
PeaceHealth is a not-for-profit health care system based in Vancouver, Wash., with services located in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. PeaceHealth includes a large multi-specialty medical group in all three states, laboratories, a Medicaid health plan (Columbia United Providers), and nine medical centers. Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, PeaceHealth has provided exceptional medicine and compassionate care to Northwest communities for more than a century.