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09/21/2015

More on Merger Mania

Photo credit: Hedgeco.net

Photo credit: Hedgeco.net

I recently wrote something in Forbes about all the mergers going on in the U.S. healthcare industry. Well here is a nice article about the growth of the healthcare system in Western North Carolina, that explores some of the same issues. Check it out:

Mission Health Partners, the Accountable Care Organization of Mission Health System, is adding 550 specialists to its network next year, according to a statement released Thursday morning.

The network, which Mission says is the second largest in North Carolina, has 275 primary care physicians.

Mission formed Mission Health Partners in June 2014. This group is different than Mission Medical Associates, which represents the company-employed doctors. It was created by private physicians, the hospital, company physicians and community health centers working in a group. Mountain Area Health Education Center also had input. Doctors who join the ACO get to tap into a system designed to share data on patients across the population.

They give up some independence in that they have to follow standards of care set by the ACO and share data on patients. But they could be financially rewarded for meeting goals.

“In general, expanded networks offer the possibility for better coordinated care,” said Dr. Peter A. Ubel, a physician and behavioral scientist who also is associate director of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Health Sector Management program.

“But that all depends on whether the network develops things like electronic medical records that enable its clinicians to easily communicate with each other,” said Ubel, who added that he didn’t know the Mission Health Partners network well.

Mission’s patients could see their health costs go up, he said.

“Larger networks also give health care providers more negotiating leverage with insurance companies, which could mean that prices will rise and, therefore, that insurance premiums might rise, too,” Ubel said. “But whether that happens depends in part on whether the insurance companies in the same area are also consolidating.”

To read the rest of this article, please visit the Citizen Times.

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