Relationship to serve as cornerstone of Bay Area network to provide more integrated care.
By Karin Rush-Monroe, UC San Francisco
UCSF Medical Center and John Muir Health have finalized an agreement that will serve as the foundation for a Bay Area health care network intended to provide patients with high quality care at an affordable price.
The two health systems also have formed a new development company that will enable them to collaborate on building new medical facilities, increase the number of physicians in the health care network, and provide physicians and patients new tools to improve coordination of care, with the ultimate goal of an enhanced patient experience.
Under the agreements, both organizations remain independent. Together, UCSF Medical Center and John Muir Health:
- Have invested in a collaborative effort, called the Bay Area Accountable Care Network, to form a regional health care network. Establishing a Bay Area-wide network will provide patients from throughout the Bay Area and Northern California with a competitively priced option to access, close to where they live or work, many of the Bay Area’s most trusted and respected hospitals, health systems and physician organizations.
- Will equally own and operate a new development company. The formal affiliation will enable both organizations to build on their strengths and work together to develop joint initiatives and a shared services organization to support programs and initiatives focused on better health care, at lower costs, for Bay Area patients.
“UCSF Medical Center, and John Muir Health are leading the development of a comprehensive Bay Area network of providers who share a common commitment to providing safe, high quality, patient centered care at an affordable price. We intend to offer this network to health plans who serve patients throughout the Bay Area,” said Mark R. Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. “We look forward to working not just with each other, but with other health organizations throughout the Greater Bay Area, in order to provide an exceptional health care experience for patients.”
The two organizations will apply for a restricted Knox-Keene license effective in the Greater Bay Area. This license, which is issued by the California Department of Managed Health Care, would enable the Bay Area Accountable Care Network to contract directly with health plans to develop an insurance product that provides access to high-quality care at an affordable price.
As a next step, UCSF Medical Center and John Muir Health will coordinate their Epic electronic medical record systems and patient communication portals to enable better physician and patient communications. UCSF Medical Center and John Muir Health also anticipate, with other provider partners, building enhanced physician practice management services to create alternatives for physicians throughout the Bay Area who wish to be participating providers in the Bay Area Accountable Care Network.
“Our affiliation brings together two forward-thinking organizations that share a vision for how health care will be delivered in the future,” said Cal Knight, president and CEO of John Muir Health. “We’re pleased to have finalized our affiliation so we can further our joint initiatives and efforts to develop a Bay Area Accountable Care Network. We’re focused on meeting the needs of patients by providing better access to high-quality and affordable care throughout the Bay Area from trusted and respected physicians, hospitals, outpatient facilities and health systems.”
Both John Muir Health and UCSF Medical Center already have experience in successful care models developed under the Affordable Care Act, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs), that have demonstrated lower health care costs and improved health care quality. These experiences, as well as those of other organizations that choose to be part of the provider network, will be translated into the Bay Area Accountable Care Network. The goal is to provide the right care at the right time and in the most appropriate setting, whether that is the primary care physician’s office, an outpatient center or a hospital. When better coordination of care results in lower costs, the savings achieved are passed along to consumers in the form of lower health care benefit premiums.
By working more closely, the two organizations also will offer more convenient access to care for patients in Northern California. For example, an outpatient clinic for liver transplant services will be established at the John Muir Health’s Walnut Creek Outpatient Center. This will allow patients who are waiting for transplants, or have recently received transplants, at UCSF Medical Center, which is nationally recognized for the quality of its program, to receive clinical services such as blood testing and monitoring at the new location. John Muir Health’s Physician Network is a comprehensive network of primary care and specialist physicians, covering virtually all conditions except transplants.
In addition, both organizations are widely recognized for the quality of care they provide. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked UCSF Medical Center, John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek and John Muir Medical Center, Concord as the top three hospitals in the San Francisco-Oakland area. In addition, the John Muir Physician Network recently received the highest possible “elite” ranking from the California Association of Physician Groups.