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Providence partnership with doctors seeks improved care, savings

October 5, 2011 |  6:15 pm

One of Southern California’s largest hospital systems is teaming up with hundreds of doctors in a new alliance designed to better manage patient care, improve medical outcomes and reduce costs.

Under the partnership with Providence Health & Services, Southern California, doctors will share and analyze data about diabetes, congestive heart failure and other conditions to identify effective practices and eliminate inefficiencies that drive up expenses.

The joint effort is expected to launch with 500 doctors by the end of the year, but it will be open to all physicians in areas served by Providence’s medical centers in Burbank, Tarzana, Mission Hills, Torrance and San Pedro. The hospital system has 3,600 affiliated doctors.

Leaders said the venture, Providence Partners for Health, makes sense given changes in payment practices through the federal healthcare overhaul, which calls for reimbursing Medicare costs based on the quality of care rather than simply the volume of services provided.

“We believe this will change the way we practice care,” said Kerry Carmody, Providence’s chief operating officer for Southern California. “This gives us a runway to make that happen.”

Carmody said the hospital system and doctors would share in any savings produced through the new partnership.

The venture comes as hospitals, doctors and health insurers across the country are forming new partnerships aimed at improving the quality of care and slashing costs.

The chairman of the Providence effort said it is different from others partly because it will include independent physicians. Dr. John Armato said he believes that better coordination will make Providence and its doctors more competitive.

“There is no doubt that both parties would be more likely to survive in a setting where they are part of a structure that provides greater value,” said Armato, chief of staff at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance. “That is provided by this for both the hospitals and the doctors.”

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-- Duke Helfand

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