The Wyoming Integrated Care Network would aim to change that by making it easier for hospitals to "keep that continuum of care inside the state," Perdue says. It will have as a goal to improve delivery of primary care by focusing on wellness and the coordinated management of patients with chronic needs. The organization is also considering joining a health information exchange. Perdue says it's looking at NeHII, the Nebraska Health Information Initiative.
The Network also hopes that focusing on primary care will help cut down on ED visits, something that's an ongoing problem for rural communities.
"We know rural EDs serve as the primary care center to a higher degree," says Daniel G. Kirkpatrick, MHA, FACHE, director of operations at BestPractices, Inc.
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Perdue acknowledges the problem.
"We're hopeful that having a good network of primary care providers will hopefully cut down on ER visits," he says. "In many locations around the country, primary care providers are very scarce."
Despite ACOs being the reason behind the Network, which is still in the early planning stages, Perdue stresses that "this may be the pre-cursor to an ACO, but it also may not. We may not follow down the path to form an ACO."
Still, he thinks it will be a benefit for not only patients, but also hospitals and physicians in Wyoming.
"I think what this hopes to accomplish is to have some of the features that the ACO calls for," he says. "But if this organization does not decide to form an ACO, I think there'll still be some potential benefits from banding together and forming this network."