Cooperating for better care.

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Competing systems cooperate on population health

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A  joint venture by two  usually competing Minnesota health systems, HealthPartners and Allina, to improve population health — especially primary care — may have some lessons for the rest of the country about  regional  healthcare cooperation.

“Coordinating care through four HealthPartners clinics along with Allina’s Mercy Hospital and five clinics, the providers  have sought to improve mental-health care access, reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions, increase student health screenings, and improve adherence to prescription medications among chronically ill patients, ” The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

“In a report to be released later this month, the alliance will show that costs for its privately insured patients increased less over the last two years than costs for Twin Cities patients overall. Among low-income patients with Medicaid coverage, spending was even lower than expected. A 2 percent decline in spending on these patients from 2013 to 2014 saved $7 million in public funding.

“The experiment also seems to be helping patients. Adding mental health practitioners in clinics and expanding day treatment at Mercy, for example, led to a 7 percent decline in hospitalizations for people in psychiatric crises.”

“Next up for the alliance is reducing waste and improving pain medicine in the region, which has seen a rash of deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses.”

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