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Published on May 21, 2013

Wellmark, Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids and UIHC create an Accountable Care Organization

Today, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa officially announced a collaboration with Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City to create an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). The new ACO will focus on coordinating patient care to improve quality, provide greater value, and slow increases in healthcare costs.

John Forsyth, Wellmark chairman and CEO said, “Wellmark is pleased to enter into this joint ACO agreement with Mercy Cedar Rapids and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to improve patient outcomes, help healthy people maintain good health, and slow the rate of cost increases.”

In an ACO, providers assume responsibility for managing a population of patients, both who are healthy and those who are in need of care, no matter where in the system the patients receive care. Wellmark offers the providers financial rewards if they reach established quality goals and slow the rate of increase in healthcare spending for these patients. At the same time, providers will not earn their financial incentive if their quality declines or their costs run higher than expected.

"The success of healthcare reform depends on transforming into more efficient and collaborative healthcare systems and assisting patients with establishing a 'medical home'," said Timothy Charles, President and CEO of MercyCare Service Corporation and Mercy Medical Center-Cedar Rapids. "Expanding our team approach through this ACO partnership, Mercy, UI Health Care and Wellmark will improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs by providing access to a broader, more comprehensive range of healthcare services, resulting in collaborative and coordinated care."

"As the state's only comprehensive academic medical center, we view this relationship as a powerful way to demonstrate the value of collaboration," stated Jean E. Robillard, MD, Vice President for Medical Affairs for UI Health Care. “We believe that we will be in a unique position to offer comprehensive, high-quality, well-integrated, and very efficient care to patients. This new relationship also offers us the opportunity to demonstrate innovation and creativity in changing the ‘value proposition’ for healthcare and having a major impact on population health and well-being.”

The ACO will enhance Wellmark members’ care in a variety of ways:

  • Work with their providers to take an active role in their healthcare.
  • Continued freedom to see the doctors of their choice.
  • Seamless customer experience when setting up an appointment, seeing multiple doctors, and receiving follow up care.
  • A reduction of redundant care and services.

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