TriHealth, St. Elizabeth to form integrated network in Cincinnati

February 1, 2014

Two Cincinnati-area health care providers are forming a joint venture intent on better managing the health of populations under a single integrated network called Healthcare Solutions Network.

One partner, Cincinnati-based TriHealth, has four Cincinnati-area hospitals, including Cincinnati's Good Samaritan Hospital, a Catholic hospital that is a member of Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives. The other partner, Edgewood, Ky.-based St. Elizabeth Healthcare, is a stand-alone system with five Catholic health facilities and a drug treatment facility in Northern Kentucky.

TriHealth and St. Elizabeth will jointly own Healthcare Solutions Network, the integrated network of the two organizations' health care facilities and physicians who are directly employed by the systems or affiliated with them. TriHealth Chief Executive John Prout and St. Elizabeth Chief Executive John Dubis will serve as co-chief executives of the network, with the senior management teams of both systems working together to run Healthcare Solutions Network. TriHealth and St. Elizabeth are not merging assets, and each organization will continue to operate its own facilities. As Catholic Health World went to press, the partners were completing the legal work necessary to form Healthcare Solutions Network. The two organizations plan to split the costs of the integrated network evenly.

Healthcare Solutions Network will be integrating care for patients of all TriHealth and St. Elizabeth clinical providers, and partnering with employers and payers to control the cost of care and manage the health of populations of patients.

The partners' network will function as a single entity — a physician hospital organization — as it negotiates with Medicare, other insurance providers and businesses. Healthcare Solutions Network plans to offer to payers a more cost-efficient narrow network made up of TriHealth's and St. Elizabeth's clinical providers, as well as a broader network in a preferred provider organization.

TriHealth spokesperson Joe Kelley noted that initially Healthcare Solutions Network will not be selling its own insurance products, but it may do so in the future.

TriHealth and St. Elizabeth "have hospitals, a physician network, an ambulatory network. We have all of the health services that a health plan or employer would need on both sides of the (Ohio) river, so we provide a regional geographic solution with one organization, one network that has a number of ancillary services to meet their health care needs," said Kelley. "Now, they can negotiate with just one entity to get all of that."

With the providers operating as one integrated network, they will be able to share patient information electronically, and this will help them to better coordinate care and reduce redundancies, including duplicated tests, according to information from Healthcare Solutions Network. They also will be able to reduce costs to payers, because of the shared infrastructure and improved care coordination, according to the network.

Healthcare Solutions Network plans to introduce population health management programs, first with employees of TriHealth and St. Elizabeth, and later through partnerships with insurance companies and businesses. TriHealth has about 11,400 employees, and St. Elizabeth, about 7,300.

As Catholic Health World went to press, TriHealth and St. Elizabeth had not yet determined how the creation of Healthcare Solutions Network would impact jobs at the systems, but they said in a statement that "most employees will see no change in responsibilities."

The Healthcare Solutions Network collaboration builds upon TriHealth's and St. Elizabeth's moves earlier this year to participate in a narrow network plan with the Humana insurance company, which is intended to lower premiums for employees and employers.

Also, TriHealth and St. Elizabeth are involved with CMS' Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative pilot for the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio, region. This pilot is a partnership between Medicare and other insurance programs and organizations to help primary care providers and their practices improve the quality of care through innovation. Improvements could include hiring new staff and updating technology to better coordinate patient care.


Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.