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Penn State, Highmark Health to Spend $1B on Population Health

Penn State Health and Highmark Health plan to invest $1 billion to improve population health management in Pennsylvania and bring value-based care to the community.

Population health partnership between Penn State, Highmark Health

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- Penn State Health and Highmark Health have announced a population health management partnership designed to deliver quality, value-based care to patients across central Pennsylvania.

The partnership includes a joint investment of more than $1 billion to develop a patient-focused, local healthcare network that will increase collaboration with community physicians.

"This exciting partnership is a commitment by our organizations to ensure that health care delivery in our region remains patient-focused, enhances overall health and wellness and creates increased opportunity for collaboration with community physicians," said Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, Dean of the Penn State College of Medicine, CEO of Penn State Health; and Senior VP for Health Affairs at Penn State.

"Penn State Health will offer more primary, specialty and acute care locations across central Pennsylvania so that our friends, families and neighbors will have easier access to our care, right in the communities where they live. Our two organizations share the belief that people facing life-changing diagnoses should be able to get the care they need as close to home as possible."

In addition to increasing access to quality care, Penn State Health and Highmark Health hope to foster new medical research and education ventures.  

“We want to collaborate with forward-thinking partners who, like us, are committed to creating a positive healthcare experience for members and patients,” said David Holmberg, president and CEO of Highmark Health.

“Penn State Health shares this vision and, together, we’re going to lead the change for a better model of healthcare in the heart of Pennsylvania.”

The community network will take a value-based reimbursement approach with providers, as opposed to fee-for-service. The organizations hope that this will change the way providers pay for and deliver quality care.  

The network also plans to develop advanced population health management capabilities and analytics tools that will help providers manage chronic diseases more efficiently.

These capabilities and tools are important to develop within a value-based reimbursement system, as smart data allows clinicians to successfully focus on overall health rather than just point-in-time care.

The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Children’s Hospital will also play central roles in the community network by providing advanced care to both children and adults.

The involvement of these organizations is essential in ensuring that no patient has to leave the region to receive advanced treatment.

Independent community physicians will be a fundamental part of the partnership as well, added Dr. William M. Bird, senior vice president of Penn State Health.

“Our goal is to keep care in the community while enhancing local access to specialty care,” he added. “This partnership will help us do just that.”

Physicians have started to see the benefits of collaborating with fellow providers, and their participation in networks like these is becoming more common as value-based care gains prevalence.

The partnership will not affect patients’ care or insurance coverage. Both Penn State Health and Highmark Health will continue to be free to contract with other health insurance companies and hospitals, and their existing contracts will remain in place.

“We are committed to improving health and access to care in the communities we serve across Pennsylvania,” Deborah Rice-Johnson, President of Highmark, Inc., stated. “Collaborating with high-value providers such as Penn State Health is one more way that we are helping to ensure that our members will continue to have access to affordable, high-quality care.”

The partnership between Penn State Health and Highmark Health ultimately seeks to provide care that benefits payers, providers, and most importantly, patients. That is the main goal for these two organizations.

“The bold strategy that we are embarking on in the region is focused on getting healthcare right for our members,” Rice-Johnson said. 

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