Seven Health Systems and Medical College of Wisconsin Launch Regional Partnership

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Media Contact:
Carolyn Bellin
(414) 805-2057
cbellin@froedterthealth.org

Milwaukee, Wis. (March 8, 2012) - Seven health care systems and the Medical College of Wisconsin are working together as a virtual health care network to launch anaccountable care strategy and other health care initiatives.

Quality Health Solutions, Inc., represents 28 hospitals in Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northern Illinois, 4,000 affiliated physicians and a combined netrevenue of nearly $6 billion. Network members include Agnesian Healthcare, Fond du Lac; Aspirus, Wausau; Bellin Health, Green Bay; Centegra Health System, McHenry, Ill.; Columbia St. Mary's, Froedtert Health, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, and the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

"The impetus for Quality Health Solutions is the shared desire of these eight organizations to collaborate to standardize quality and drive down health care costs," said Peter Pruessing, chief executive officer of Quality Health Solutions. Pruessing also is an executive vice president at Froedtert Health. "We are aligning our existing resources, such as hospitals, clinics and physician groups, across a broad geographic area to create a coordinated health care network that gives employers and patients tremendous choice about the kind of care they receive and where they receive it."

The members of Quality Health Solutions are working to become clinically integrated in order to assure high quality care that is efficient and cost effective, Pruessing said. He defined clinical integration as a network of otherwise independent providers who adhere to common quality standards and are linked by a common clinical information platform to control costs and ensure quality.

According to Pruessing, the goal of Quality Health Solutions is to link multiple independent health systems in different geographic areas in an arrangement that enables themto act as a single integrated entity while preserving the integrity of local community relationships. "It's a way of connecting community assets across a large geography to create value," he said. "We are improving health care through the discipline of clinical integration."

To assure that care is efficiently coordinated across the network, Quality Health Solutions uses sophisticated data aggregation tools called Intelligent Healthcare. The tools enable network members to combine and analyze information from different electronic medical record systems, employers, health insurers, pharmacies, laboratories and other sources. Intelligent Healthcare is available in Wisconsin exclusively through Quality Health Solutions.

"Intelligent Healthcare has a 20-year track record of helping health care providers apply data to improve results," said Paul Katz, president of California-based Intelligent Healthcare. "As health care reform accelerates, major health systems across the country are using it to identify ways to measure performance, improve care, and manage cost."

Quality Health Solutions' accountable care strategy includes several initiatives aimed at improving the health of specific populations while reducing their costs.

In February, Quality Health Solutions, through its affiliated company, AccountableCare Solutions LLC, signed an agreement with Madison-based WEA Trust Health Insurance to increase generic drug prescribing by physicians in its health plan. Using generics when appropriate can save health care dollars for patients and employers.

This spring, Quality Health Solutions will launch a narrow network offering, QHS Health Network, as a direct contracting option for employers who self-fund their health benefit plans; it also will be available through commercial insurers as a fully insured product.Compared to other narrow network products, the QHS Network will give participants a broad choice of health care systems as well as competitive pricing and coordinated care, Pruessing said.

"As we analyzed opportunities related to health care reform, we identified that accountable care organizations are a strategy that Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare needed to explore," said John Oliverio, president and chief executive officer of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. "This opportunity is appealing because we are partnering with like-minded organizations with a commitment to quality and with a geographic distribution that allows usto expand our presence."

Another initiative being implemented by Quality Health Solutions is a telemedicine strategy aimed at connecting local health care facilities and their aligned providers withscarce specialty services in a timely way. A pilot project this spring will focus on rapid assessment and decision support for treating stroke patients in emergency rooms. A number of other applications are also being developed, Pruessing said.

"Telemedicine has the potential to dramatically change how doctors can share their expertise to ensure that patients receive appropriate care, regardless of where they are," saidJohn R. Raymond, Sr., MD, president and chief executive officer of the Medical College of Wisconsin. "Quality Health Solutions will help the Medical College of Wisconsin achieveits goals of generating new knowledge about population health in partnership with communities and the other QHS members."

Pruessing said Quality Health Solutions also expects to develop bundled payment offerings as another method of reducing costs and improving quality and efficiency.

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