"That allows all of the emergency room physicians to identify how we can [provide] care without having to repeat things over and over again," Saunders says. "When a patient is transferred to another hospital we tend to repeat the diagnostics. Why do that if our processes of care and our algorithms of care have been agreed upon by all of the players. The same thing with hospitalist medicine, which is one thing we are interested in growing in a regional way so that not every hospital is attempting to manage this on their own."
Powell, president of Boston-based consultants Payer+Provider Syndicate, says this week's announcement builds upon several other recent partnerships in Georgia. "In April 2012, Central Georgia Health System developed a partnership with Tift Regional Medical Center to coordinate information systems, clinical services, and business services. Central Georgia Health System also recently partnered with Peach Regional Medical Center to build The Medical Center of Peach County, a new facility that will expand access to care in the community," he points out.
Powell says that by sharing information Stratus Healthcare hospitals will be able to manage risk and expenditures as they migrate to value-based payment.
"Under (accountable care organization) contracts, health systems are liable for the cost of care a patient incurs, even if the patient goes outside of the ACO to receive care. Poor information sharing can lead to duplicative testing," Powell says. "By pooling information, the health systems can avoid performing duplicative testing and can better coordinate care for patients seeking care at multiple institutions within the region."
"Stratus goes a step further," Powell explains, "by enabling its members to engage in collective purchasing and the sharing of business resources. Given the substantial proportion of Georgia hospitals in the alliance, it represents a formidable force with substantial bargaining power."