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Atrius, BIDMC Working to Create New Health Care Model

Collaboration will look to boost quality, cost-efficiency

BOSTON - Atrius Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) are expanding their relationship to establish a new model of health care delivery between a large ambulatory multi-specialty practice and a leading academic medical center, according to Gene Lindsey, MD, president and CEO of Atrius Health.

The boards of directors from Atrius and BIDMC both voted Wednesday evening to build the expanded relationship.

The first step will be that Harvard Vanguard internists from the Kenmore, Copley Square, and Post Office Square offices will send their patients who need emergency care or hospitalization to BIDMC. Over time, Atrius Health will also look to collaborate with BIDMC in ensuring hospital care for patients with more complex needs, including cardiovascular and oncology patients as well as other surgical specialties. The organizations will utilize electronic medical records to help coordinate patient care. Atrius Health will continue all of its existing hospital relationships to serve patients in communities it serves.

Guided by an overarching goal of patient-centered care, Atrius Health and BIDMC also envision a robust agenda of quality improvement and cost efficiency strategies. Both parties have a vision of working together far into the future. Additional details about joint clinical, quality, and cost reduction programs will be introduced over time.

This new expanded relationship comes amid the current statewide and national debate on cost control and health care reform, and the move toward global payments in Massachusetts. The collaboration will be built around a strong emphasis on primary care and a continuum of care from the ambulatory setting to the hospital and beyond.

"The goal is to demonstrate that by working together, the two organizations can provide the highest quality, best service, and lowest cost health care in the Commonwealth." Lindsey said.

"We have the utmost respect for the progress BIDMC has made towards eliminating preventable harm and doing so with transparency," he added.

The collaboration is also part of a larger Atrius hospital strategy to work together to improve quality and reduce costs with hospitals that share their vision and want to work on lowering cost and improving quality. Atrius Health and BIDMC have a long history together and both were involved in the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts LEAD program for process and quality improvement.

"We intend to establish the model for health care delivery in the Commonwealth," said BIDMC President and CEO Paul Levy. "That model offers a full spectrum of health care services that are patient-centered, compassionate, integrated, and evidence-based. Fundamental to our model will be an emphasis on primary care, alignment of the organizations, and transparency. Atrius Health has demonstrated leadership in all these areas, which is why we are so excited to be working and learning together."

"Almost for certain, the American health care system is on the threshold of a leap into a new era of integrated, coordinated care. Patients as individuals and society as a whole badly needs that leap to achieve better quality at lower total cost. That re-forming of care will require new, highly cooperative relationships between foresighted hospitals and progressive medical groups," according to Don Berwick, MD, MPP, President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement. "I cannot think of two organizations better equipped to welcome that reinvention, and to succeed at it, than BIDMC and Atrius Health. Each has a strong and distinguished track record of innovation, and their combined efforts will blaze a trail for many others," he added.

The goals of the new relationship follow many of goals and principles outlined by the Massachusetts Health Care Quality and Cost Council, the Massachusetts Payment Reform Commission, the Mayor's Task Force on Improving Access to Primary Care in Boston, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI),including:

· Putting primary care at the center of patient's care;

· Making sure that physicians work together as a team with nurses, technicians, and other allied health professionals;

· Enhancing and further integrating electronic medical records;

· Advancing health equity and ensuring a diverse, culturally competent, interdisciplinary workforce;

· Preventing and reducing medical errors and being transparent about results;

· Improving the efficiency of health care delivery by continuous process improvement as exemplified by the Lean methodology;

· Empowering patient involvement in the design of the health care delivery system through advisory councils, secret shoppers, patient satisfaction surveys, and other mechanisms.

Harvard Vanguard and its predecessors have a long history with BIDMC. Harvard Community Health Plan originally formed as a combination of a Brigham & Women's practice and a Beth Israel practice, and benefited from the relationships with both of these outstanding institutions. Today, Atrius Health has existing relationships with BIDMC for obstetrics and oncology.

Atrius Health

Atrius Health is an alliance of five community-based medical groups including Dedham Medical Associates, Granite Medical, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, South Shore Medical Center, and Southboro Medical Group that is committed to making it easy for patients to be healthier. The Massachusetts nonprofit organization was created to enable collaboration on new and better ways of delivering care while maintaining an emphasis on care for the local community. Atrius Health represents over 800 physicians and over 1,200 other health professionals serving nearly 700,000 patients throughout eastern Massachusetts.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and consistently ranks among the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.