Beth Israel inks Cambridge ACO agreement

May 3, 2013 in Medical Technology

Cambridge Health Alliance and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center inked an agreement Thursday to form a clinical and academic affiliation with the aim of enhancing care provided by both institutions.

[See also: Elbow grease top requisite for ACO]

As part of this new alliance, starting Jan. 1, 2014, CHA physicians will join the Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, or BIDCO, a fledgling accountable care organization formed by BIDMC and Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians earlier this year. BIDCO will be designated as the primary physician contracting organization for CHA, allowing physicians to share risk and invest in the infrastructure and care management systems needed to manage patient populations and coordinate care under a global payment structure.


“We are excited to join forces with one of the nation’s preeminent academic medical centers to provide high-quality, coordinated, and cost-effective care in our patients’ local communities,” said Patrick Wardell, chief executive officer of Cambridge Health Alliance, which operates three hospital campuses and a network of primary and specialty care practices in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north communities, in a press statement. “At the heart of this partnership is a mutual commitment to improve the health of the communities we serve.”


“Cambridge Health Alliance has a proud history of providing quality care to its communities,” said Kevin Tabb, MD, BIDMC’s president and CEO, in a press statement. “It is exactly the kind of quality community healthcare provider we embrace as vital to our growing network of hospitals and physicians. This affiliation represents an important part of our strategy of working with community health care providers to deliver the right care in the right place at the right time.”


Officials say CHA patients will benefit from enhanced coordination and integration as a result of this ACO agreement. Integral to this is the organizations’ compatible electronic health records systems, which will facilitate seamless delivery of care across all sites. Physicians and staff at both organizations will now be able to monitor all jointly managed patients’ clinical histories, including test results, medication histories and ED visits. BIDMC patients will also benefit, officials add, from access to CHA’s community hospital services, ensuring they will be able to receive high-quality care close to home.


Implementation of the affiliation is pending review by the state’s Health Policy Commission as required under Massachusetts’ 2012 health care reform law.


Approximately 20 percent of CHA’s primary care physicians will continue to be part of the Mount Auburn Cambridge Independent Practice Association.


Officials say CHA and BIDMC, which are both Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals, will collaborate on academic teaching and research to improve patient care and foster the next generation of medical professionals. CHA will continue to serve as a surgical rotation site for BIDMC surgery residents, while CHA residents will continue to perform cardiology and family medicine rotations at BIDMC. BIDMC residents in emergency medicine will also have training rotations at CHA. The organizations will explore other opportunities to enhance their respective residency and fellowship programs.


“This is an important component of our transformation into a high-performing, high-value health system that can better adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace with new payment models that aim to improve population health,” added Wardell.


With this partnership, CHA retains its own governance structure and remains a public healthcare system.


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