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Ascension is rebranding its hospitals


Edmundson. Mo.-based Ascension Health, the giant Catholic  hospital chain, is starting its largest ever advertising and marketing campaign to rebrand all of its hospitals, first in Michigan and Wisconsin and then elsewhere in its empire.

The aim is to getting patients and employees looking at Ascension as a system that offers care locally but also has  the clinical and financial strength of the nation’s largest not-for-profit hospital company. Ascension has 141 hospitals and  had fiscal 2016 revenue of $21.9 billion.

Meanwhile, the system  has reorganized itself into two divisions: healthcare delivery and a solutions division to house  such ancillary businesses as group purchasing, bio-medical engineering and venture capital.

To read a Modern Healthcare article on this, please hit this link.

Ascension CEO: U.S. needs a ‘healthcare policy’


Ascension hopes to use Cayman venture to boost productivity



Signs on Grand Cayman commemorating hurricanes.

This Modern Healthcare article discusses how the St. Louis-based Ascension  Health system hopes that its joint venture in the Cayman Islands will provide a model for raising hospital productivity. But, as this article notes, making the model work in the U.S. “would require major changes in physician and nurse behavior,” as well as overhauling how “ORs, ICUs and PACUs {post-anesthesia care units} operate and numerous regulatory reforms.”

Modern Healthcare says that “Ascension, which last month made the Cayman alternative available to its 1,000 headquarters’ employees and any other employee who isn’t within a hundred miles of an Ascension-owned facility, the venture represents a learning opportunity. It wants to see if its new partner’s lean healthcare model, perfected in India by Dr. Devi Shetty—whom the Wall Street Journal in 2009 dubbed the Henry Ford of heart surgery—can be transferred to its 129 hospitals in the U.S.”

The publication notes that “The focus on productivity isn’t just in the operating room. Instead of separate intensive-care units and post-anesthesia care units, Health City has a 17-bed open ward ICU that is used for both functions.”


2 big Ohio systems merging their ACOs


Two Ohio health systems will jointly contract for accountable care with health plans under a newly created clinically integrated network with broad geographic reach in the Buckeye State.

Cincinnati-based Mercy Health, formerly Catholic Health Partners, and Akron-based Summa Health said that each system’s Accountable Care Organization would join a new organization, Advanced Health Select — a clinically integrated network.

Other large regional systems, such as, in Michigan, Ascension Health and Trinity Health,  have been working to broaden their contracting in similar ways

The idea in the Ohio case is to build on ACOs’ success in the Medicare Shared Savings Program and the  systems’  total of  $100 million invested in the last four years in data analytics, information technology and care coordination.

Moody’s: More nonprofit systems to become insurers


Nonprofit hospital systems are expected to expand their role in the commercial health-insurance industry in the next several years, says Moody’s Investors Service Inc. 

Pressures to dramatically improve care coordination and population-health management, particularly because of the Affordable Care Act, will be behind this. So will  hospitals’ growing need to diversify their revenue as inpatient volumes and other traditional  revenue drivers tend to fall.

Recent nonprofit entrants into health insurance include Ascension Health, Catholic Health Initiatives and Memorial Hermann Healthcare System.

Additionally,  Business Insurance reported,  consolidation in the commercial health-insurance industry “has put hospital systems under increasing pressure to grow to maintain adequate price-negotiating leverage with insurers.”

Moody’s wrote in its report: “The trend of not-for-profit hospital systems launching or acquiring health insurance plans will likely be limited to larger systems that have the resources to absorb the costs and risks associated with taking on an entirely new business.”

Another hospital-insurer merger

An affiliate of St. Louis-based Ascension Health plans to buy Sterling Heights, Mich.-based U.S. Health and Life Insurance Co. for $50 million, reports Modern Healthcare.

Ascension Health is the parent of Warren, Mich.-based St. John Providence Health System, a five-hospital system, and nine other hospitals in  the Wolverine State.

This is part of a growing national trend of hospital systems uniting with insurance companies — a  very happy sign for efforts to control healthcare costs. Hospital systems that own insurance companies have a powerful incentive to control costs, an incentive that they have not had before in the virtually out-of-control fee-for-service, cost-plus system.

Modern Healthcare reported that “Joseph Aoun, healthcare lawyer with Nuyen, Tomtishen and Aoun in Ann Arbor, said the acquisition of USHL will provide {Ascension affiliate} Together Health Network, a physician-led clinically integrated network, with the ability to participate in the state’s health insurance exchange.”

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