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What’s the situation?

On June 13th, 2018, Dr. Jonathan S. Lewin, the CEO of Emory Healthcare and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs of Emory University, announced a new collaboration for integrated care. Emory Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente have developed a model of health care collaboration, that provides Kaiser Permanente members with an integrated healthcare experience at Emory hospitals. This collaboration serves as an integrated care and coverage model, dedicated to improving the health of its members. The partnership has also expressed that they intend to improve community health and health education within the greater Atlanta area.

Who is Kaiser, anyways?

Kaiser Permanente is the largest managed care organization in the United States, and was founded in 1945. Kaiser is one of the most prominent examples of an Accountable Care organization, a model of care that has been gaining popularity within the last decade. An Accountable Care Organization is, “defined as a set of physicians and hospitals that accept joint responsibility for the quality and cost of care received by their panel of patients. Financial incentives for meeting quality standards and efficiency are created to hold ACOs accountable for performance.” Another example of an ACO is the Cleveland Clinic model. The Kaiser model emphasizes preventive care, which is exemplified by their intentions on improving community health and education within Atlanta. The doctors in the Kaiser system are salaried, rather than paid by fee-for-service. It is unclear how this partnership will change physician billing, however it was detailed that all physicians who are currently a part of the Southeast Permanente Medical Group will treat their patients at Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. The most important aspect of an ACO is collaboration, in that the system is meant to help hospitals and insurance companies collaborate more efficiently at a lower cost.

If this partnership only affects Kaiser members, how will it change Emory Healthcare on a broader scale?

A model of collaboration. Emory Healthcare has smartly identified the importance of collaboration between hospitals and insurance companies, especially in regards to lowering healthcare costs. Adopting a model like Kaiser’s does not happen overnight, and this partnership helps Emory learn how to do so in an incremental manner. With the future of the ACA still in limbo, it is up to hospitals and insurance companies to take the future of healthcare into their hands. As frightening of a prospect as that is, models like Kaiser make the future of healthcare a little less grim.