Breaking: UW and PeaceHealth Form Strategic Affiliation

From PeaceHealth:

PRESS RELEASE: 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.

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.

About PeaceHealth: 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.