Hospital and health system Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) from central and south Georgia announced on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 their plans to participate in a newly formed alliance which will create one of the nation’s largest collaborations of hospitals, healthcare systems and physicians aligned to develop a clinically-integrated network. The alliance, to be called Stratus Healthcare, consists of 23 hospitals and approximately 1,500 physicians. Stratus, a non-equity partnership at the outset, expects to form a non-profit limited liability corporation, pooling both human capital and financial resources to meets its mission and vision. Members of Stratus Healthcare will work together in a formalized partnership to exchange best practices, combine resources, develop coordinated information systems, reduce costs and manage the health of populations. Dodge County Hospital will take advantage of a shared services model, yet remain independent.
Central Georgia Health System (CGHS) in Macon and Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) in Tifton first announced a partnership in April of 2012 and respective presidents/CEOs Dr. Ninfa Saunders and William T. Richardson have worked purposely since October to develop the partnership framework and recruit members for the alliance. Saunders and Richardson said that Stratus Healthcare partners share a common vision for the future and the affiliation provides an alternative to mergers and acquisitions.
Stratus Healthcare will consist of the following member hospitals and respective medical staff physicians: Bleckley Memorial Hospital in Cochran; Central Georgia Health System (Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, Central Georgia Rehabilitation Hospital in Macon and Medical Center of Peach County in Byron); Coffee Regional Medical Center in Douglas; Columbus Regional Health System (Columbus Regional Medical Center, Doctors Hospital and Hughston Hospital all in Columbus); Crisp Regional Hospital in Cordele; Dodge County Hospital in Eastman; Houston Healthcare (Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins and Perry Hospital in Perry); Jasper Memorial Hospital in Monticello; Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville; Putnam General Hospital in Eatonton; South Georgia Medical Center Health System (South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta, Smith Northview Hospital in Valdosta, Louis Smith Memorial Hospital in Lakeland, Clinch Memorial Hospital in Homerville and SGMC-Berrien Campus in Nashville); Taylor Regional Hospital in Hawkinsville; and Tift Regional Health System (Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton and Cook Medical Center in Adel).
Hospital and physician leaders from each hospital system assembled for a news conference in Greensboro stating that the goal of Stratus Healthcare is to enhance the health and wellness of residents in their communities by improving the regional coordination of medical services for patients, employers and payors.
In the future, primary care doctors and specialists will need to work closer together on a regional scale to develop clinical guidelines and the sharing of outcomes data. The timely exchange of electronic patient information is becoming increasingly important to improve quality and prevent duplication or over-utilization of healthcare services. Stratus will coordinate and support physicians in this endeavor.
“Federal healthcare reform will require that medical care be reimbursed based on a fee-for-value framework rather than the fee-for-service model used in the past,” said Saunders. “Stratus Healthcare will create the delivery model for this transformation.”
Richardson said the name ‘Stratus’ was chosen because of the upward inference of the word and the alliance’s goal to strive for excellence. “The collaborative wants to elevate health care to a higher level,” said Richardson. “We wanted an organizational title that reflects our mission to enhance the health and wellness of our patients by delivering exceptional care through a connected community of physicians, hospitals and shared services. Each Stratus partner wants to add value for patients and create scale, yet realizes it could be accomplished much easier through coordinated effort with other health care organizations. Dodge County Hospital is an important health care leader within the region and having them as a Stratus partner is significant.”
Saunders said that forming a collaborative partnership sets the stage for innovation in the changing healthcare climate. She added that Stratus will serve as a vehicle to keep health care local with the goal to improve outcomes, enhance the patient experience and increase efficiency as required by health care reform.
“It’s about the right care, the right access at the right cost,” said Saunders. “Initially, the Stratus Healthcare work groups will explore primary care, emergency medicine, hospitalist and specialty care networks to include the development of clinical guidelines, telemedicine connections, transfer arrangements and the sharing of outcomes data. Work groups will examine collective purchasing, an integrated clinical network and shared business resources.”
An open forum featuring Hometown Health President/CEO Jimmy Lewis is scheduled for August 13, 2013 at the Eastman-Dodge Chamber of Commerce conference room. Lewis will be informing citizens of changing climate of rural healthcare.