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ThedaCare, Ministry announce collaborations

Sep. 18, 2013
 
:
Holly Meyer/Post-Crescent Media

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APPLETON — Two major Fox Valley health care providers say they’re joining forces with other medical systems to better serve their patients.

Fox Cities-based ThedaCare announced Tuesday that patients with complicated conditions no longer need to travel to Mayo Clinic for second opinions, thanks to a collaboration between the two healthcare providers. ThedaCare is now a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which lets ThedaCare specialists electronically consult with experts at the renowned Minnesota hospital at no cost to patients.

Meanwhile, Ministry Health Care — which includes Menasha-based Affinity Health System — announced it has joined Quality Health Solutions Inc., a collaborative group of Wisconsin health care systems and the Medical College of Wisconsin, to preserve choice for patients, assure high-quality services and drive down costs. Affinity Health System operates St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh.

ThedaCare

ThedaCare is the first Wisconsin hospital to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network and the 21st hospital to participate in the subscription-based program, said David Hayes, Mayo Clinic Care Network medical director. The partnership was announced by ThedaCare president Dean Gruner during a Tuesday news conference at Appleton Medical Center.

“The peace of mind that we think that will give to patients, that they have that access and they don’t always have to run to a large, academic medical center to find that answer, we think that’s going to be invaluable,” Gruner said.

ThedaCare health system includes Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca.

ThedaCare is paying an undisclosed annual cost for the services, which also gives ThedaCare specialists and primary care physicians access to AskMayoExperts. The online medical resource helps with diagnosing complex medical conditions and care planning.

About 40 or 50 ThedaCare patients are expected to benefit each month from the electronic consultations, which are expected to take three to five business days. Gruner said the consults will give about 80 percent of the patients reassurance that they can continue to receive treatment locally. The rest of the patients will be advised to travel elsewhere for care.

Ministry Health Care

The addition of Ministry Health Care to Quality Health Solutions (QHS) brings the network to 34 hospitals and more than 6,000 physicians spanning north, central and eastern Wisconsin. Annually, the members together have more than 166,000 inpatient admissions and more than 5 million outpatient visits.

“Ministry Health Care significantly increases our footprint and positions QHS to leverage size and scale to cost-effectively coordinate care for patients across a broad geographic area,” Peter Pruessing, chief executive officer of Quality Health Solutions, said in a statement Tuesday.

The network is clinically integrated, allowing it to contract directly with health plans on behalf of its members for shared savings, pay-for-performance and other innovative payment programs.

“Quality Health Solutions’ innovative approach to accountable care will allow us to better serve employers and our patients and will bring Ministry increased commercial market share,” Nick Desien, chief executive officer of Ministry Health Care, said in a statement. “We believe this collaboration is a significant step in the transformation of health care delivery.”

In addition to Ministry, QHS members in Wisconsin who are participating in the network include Agnesian Healthcare, Columbia St. Mary’s, Froedtert Health, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

— Holly Meyer: 920-993-1000, ext. 426, or hmeyer@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @HollyAMeyer

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