The Partnership for a Healthy Arkansas

Elizabeth Caldwell

Apple with State

UAMS is working in collaboration with other health care organizations across the state to implement programs that improve health care quality and lower health care costs for patients and providers.

The Partnership for a Healthy Arkansas, a Shared Services Organization, was announced in 2015, bringing together UAMS, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Baptist Health, St. Bernards Healthcare and Washington Regional Medical System.

A Shared Services Organization is a business model to lower costs and improve performance while each entity remains independent and community focused. It will not include a merger among any of the founding organizations.

“Our organizations share a common commitment to deliver the best health care and health value to Arkansas citizens,” said Washington Regional Medical System President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Bradley, who was elected chairman of the new organization.

“Because all members of this collaboration are headquartered in Arkansas and all rooted in a not-for-profit mission, we share a focus on improving the financing and delivery of health care to Arkansans,” he said.

Chris Barber, president and chief executive officer of St. Bernards Healthcare in Jonesboro was elected vice chairman of the new organization.

“Following extensive discussions on how best to improve health care for Arkansans, our organizations came to the conclusion that collaboration on innovative health improvement and efficiency initiatives across the state is the right approach,” Barber said. “We retain our focus on our communities’ needs and learn best practices from each other.”

The Partnership for a Healthy Arkansas is evaluating opportunities to achieve cost savings and performance improvement in three main areas – operational shared services, population health shared services and clinical improvement shared services.

Troy Wells, Baptist Health president and chief executive officer, is secretary/treasurer of The Partnership for a Healthy Arkansas. He said specific programs in these three areas will reduce duplication, share the cost of expensive operations and improve performance for the benefit of patients and insurance plan members.

Healthy Partnership

“To be successful, we will engage our affiliated physicians as leaders and partners in many initiatives,” Wells said.

Examples of potential collaborative efforts include information technology, customer call centers, patient care management and coordination, expensive bio-medical equipment maintenance, and quality and financial data analysis.

Having Arkansas Blue Cross participate in this effort is unique among such organizations nationwide.

The collaborative will facilitate cooperation between the health systems and the insurance company to provide the best care at the lowest cost for the state’s most financially vulnerable individuals as well as those residents who receive employer-sponsored coverage whether self-funded or fully insured.

Mark White, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross, said the partners have a common goal to ensure Arkansans receive high-quality, efficient care under new and innovative payment arrangements and insurance projects.

“Our collective efforts will ultimately improve the health of Arkansans by working in concert with our health system and physician partners,” White said.

Roxane Townsend, M.D., vice chancellor of clinical programs for UAMS and chief executive officer of UAMS Medical Center said the state is fortunate that the leading health systems and the state’s largest health insurer “have a truly collaborative relationship and shared goals.”

UAMS and Baptist Health already are working together to reduce duplication in two clinical areas: vascular surgery and inpatient rehabilitation. More areas of clinical cooperation are under consideration. In addition, UAMS collaborates with St. Bernards and Washington Regional through its Regional Programs, partnering on family medicine residency training, telemedicine and a variety of clinical programs including family medicine, geriatrics and high-risk pregnancy.

“UAMS is a valuable state asset and serves all Arkansans with services in all parts of the state,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.,

“Because Arkansas ranks 49th in overall health outcomes among the 50 states, we face a collective challenge and responsibility to address high percentages of smoking, poverty, obesity and cardiovascular disease,” Rahn said. “Cooperation to maximize resources and improve access to care is the key to improving the health of our citizens, and has a direct impact on employers and our entire economy.”