New company offers opportunities in healthcare

Ashley Thurow

UC Health recently announced plans to form a joint venture with Intermountain Healthcare to build a large clinically integrated network (CIN) in Colorado. The stated intention of this joint venture is to accelerate the transition to value-based care and introduce new health insurance options.

Monument Health has asked questions about what this means for our organization and Western Colorado. Monument Health also operates a CIN organized as a joint venture between Primary Care Partners and St. Mary’s Medical Center – now part of Intermountain Health.

Monument Health has grown into one of the largest CINs in Colorado with a robust number of partnerships with insurance companies and employer groups to support 75,000 patients. Many of these relationships are advanced in complexity and have proven valuable in improving health outcomes and efficacy while reducing the cost of care. Monument Health pioneered values-based care throughout western Colorado and serves as a model for this type of work nationally.

As a separate company operated by an independent board of directors, Monument Health will not be part of the proposed joint venture. But as the new joint venture develops, we will look at opportunities to partner. This partnership could take many possible forms, giving us a variety of options and ways to do this effectively.

Monument Health will continue to strive to serve our local communities here in western Colorado. Population health is local and requires strong local engagement with providers, employers and patients to achieve desired outcomes.

I believe Western Colorado could have many potential benefits from partnering with this new CIN. One of its biggest advantages is the scale and scope it offers, which could allow us to work with insurance companies in deeper and more meaningful ways. Insurance is all about risk. Taking significant risks becomes easier the larger the population. Our self-insured employer groups are well aware of this fact. If we can spread risk across larger populations, we can more meaningfully partner with insurance companies in cost reduction efforts and pass those savings on to patients and employers.

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Another potential benefit could be access to a larger network of vendors, especially for specialties that have longer wait times or require travel here. Our goal is to keep the supply on site as much as possible. But when travel becomes necessary for highly specialized care, we want to ensure our patients are cared for and transitioned seamlessly. That’s an area we’re going to explore.

The addition of another insurance option could also bring great benefits to the Western Slope. We look forward to hearing more about Intermountain’s healthcare plan, SelectHealth, and how it could work alongside the new joint venture. Monument Health would welcome a partnership with SelectHealth, as we have with many other payers who are willing to engage in value-based care work with us.

The type of work I am describing turns the traditional healthcare paradigm on its head. CINs provide the framework and accountability to align the competing interests of providers, hospitals and insurance companies towards the same goals focused on prevention and reducing the total cost of care, leading to better outcomes at lower prices. Without CINs, these competing interests would not have the incentive or, quite frankly, the ability to change their business models. Physicians would not be able to get away from serving large numbers of patients at a so-called “churn and burn” pace charging for services, and insurance companies would continue to push for as few visits and follow-up claims as possible. We envision a different future for healthcare and work to advance it. I believe that this new joint venture CIN will have similar goals and aspirations.

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The work we’ve done in Western Colorado didn’t happen overnight. This has been achieved through consistency and local relationships. As Intermountain and UC Health begin this journey, we’re excited to support their efforts and share the lessons learned. I look forward to exploring opportunities with this new entity to expand the populations we serve while expanding the resources and data available to Monument Health. With a wider population, risks can be spread and more effective health outcomes can be achieved.

In the meantime, Monument Health will continue to advance our mission of promoting a healthy population and prevention while reducing costs. We will continue to explore local growth opportunities and prioritize our relationships with local employers. The future is bright for us and western Colorado.

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