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VUMC teams with 3 Midstate hospitals

BY: JOHN HOWSER

9/22/2011 - Leaders of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Maury Regional Medical Center, Northcrest Medical Center and Williamson Medical Center today announced affiliation agreements establishing a partnership between these medical centers to work collaboratively to create new jointly operated programs and services in the counties where these hospitals reside.

These programs are intended to expand primary and specialty clinical services in Davidson, Maury, Robertson and Williamson counties, while at the same time augmenting specialty training and clinical research.

As a first step, the affiliation agreements create immediate opportunities for all partners to broaden the scope of health care delivery across Middle Tennessee with a broad array of services including, but not limited to, cancer care, primary care, cardiovascular services, diagnostic imaging services, ambulatory surgery and medical facility development.

“We consider each institution to be strong and natural partners as we further our efforts to serve the patients of this region,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System.

“We are pleased with the opportunity to formalize our already collaborative relationships with colleagues at Maury Regional Medical Center, NorthCrest Medical Center and Williamson Medical Center. We believe the patients of Middle Tennessee will benefit from an enhanced level of integrated care, ultimately making a significant contribution to health care delivery in our respective communities.”

The agreements ensure all organizations will remain independent while continuing to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Each party can continue to pursue individual initiatives. However, the agreements provide the necessary structure for all parties to form collaborations that will create more efficient, cost-effective patient care through new programs and services, and through the ability to eliminate overlapping and competing projects.

“This expanded affiliation with Vanderbilt will benefit Maury Regional by collaborating with one of the most respected teaching and research hospitals in the nation,” said Robert Otwell, chief executive office for Maury Regional Medical Center. “We can draw upon their clinical expertise and physician recruitment strengths while maintaining our independence as a community hospital.”

Otwell also said the affiliation enhances the capabilities of all four organizations “while advancing health care by offering new services, standardizing best practices and providing the highest value.”

Currently, Maury Regional and Vanderbilt share partnerships through the physician practice of Vanderbilt Heart-Columbia, diagnostic imaging services in Spring Hill and the provision of inpatient neonatal intensive care and cardiac surgery services.

As the nation calls for improved quality of care at lower cost, academic medical centers must identify better ways to best serve patients throughout the continuum of care by creating improved access and cost-effective care delivery systems, said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“Major developments are occurring rapidly within the delivery of health care as the result of the advancement of medical science. At the same time, changes to federal and state health policy are promoting the creation of innovative models to more efficiently and effectively coordinate the delivery of health care across broad populations.

“These affiliations are a tremendous positive for all parties, serving as a forward-thinking approach to partnerships between community-based hospitals and large tertiary referral centers performing specialty care, training and research,” Balser said.

Going forward, better health management across broad populations will involve the formation of regional partnerships between hospitals and physicians who are committed to: the cost-effective delivery of medical services; establishing medical records connectivity; establishing protocols and incentives for delivering services at the most cost-effective location; jointly building service capabilities and quality programs through these partnerships; and introducing protocols that operationalize evidence-based medical practices.

“As the landscape of health care changes, it becomes increasingly important to find ways to deliver world class care while remaining cost-effective,” said Scott Raynes, president and chief executive officer of NorthCrest Medical Center. “Broadening NorthCrest’s availability of resources through this partnership is one way we can enhance our services, continue our high quality care and remain good stewards of our organization and our community’s health.”

The affiliation puts into place the immediate ability to form jointly operated programs between NorthCrest and VUMC in the areas of cardiovascular services, radiology/imaging, endocrinology, urology, rheumatology and other clinical specialties as well as to partner on educational programs and clinical research.

“This affiliation will enhance the care and services NorthCrest provides to our patients and community through broadening clinical integration with Vanderbilt Medical Center, one of the world's best academic medical centers,” said Raynes. “Health care is changing daily and this affiliation will help NorthCrest better navigate these changes.”

VUMC and Williamson Medical Center already share longstanding partnerships across a number of services. Vanderbilt’s Williamson County physicians refer patients to Williamson Medical Center for surgical procedures and other inpatient services.

“Amid changes in health care on a national scale, Williamson Medical Center is excited to more formally align itself with the outstanding tertiary services and expertise of Vanderbilt,” said Dennis Miller, FACHE, FHFMA, Williamson Medical Center’s chief executive officer.

“The community will surely benefit as we work side by side with Vanderbilt to fulfill WMC’s mission to meet the health care needs of the communities we serve.”

“While these agreements are focused on the joint creation of new programs with our colleagues at these institutions, we are appreciative of the opportunity for Vanderbilt to continue to strengthen our relationships with the many physicians and hospitals already partnering with us to provide outstanding health care throughout the region,” said Pinson.

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