Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

9 Health Care Providers Offer Latest Network

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

9 Health Care Providers Offer Latest Network

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

"Competition" may be a dirty word to those writing health care reform proposals in Washington, D.C. But in metropolitan Oklahoma City, competition is creating health care alliances to ensure facilities don't lose their market share.

That was the rationale behind Monday's announcement of nine health care providers forming the Arrowhead Health Network to help managed care organizations provide comprehensive and geographical coverage.

"The network was formed to contract with payers, employers and insurance companies, but to define it as an insurance-type alliance would be a little narrow," said Judy Akins, director of marketing and corporate communications for Mercy Health Center. "The nine health care providers have agreed to come together and be prepared to contract with payer or insurance groups to improve access to physicians and facilities."

Providers signing the letter of intent are Mercy, Presbyterian Hospital, St. Anthony Hospital, University Hospitals, Norman Regional Hospital, Bethany Health Center, Shawnee Regional Hospital, Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton and St. Mary's Hospital in Enid.

Two Tulsa hospitals, St. John Medical Center and Saint Francis Hospital, are discussing network membership, according to a group announcement issued Monday.

Now that the letter of intent has been signed, a board of directors, representing physicians and senior executives of all the facilities, is meeting to hammer out rules on selling services.

"For all practical purposes, the network is effective today, but we have not signed any contracts yet," Akin said Monday. "Our board is meeting to move toward arranging contracts.

"This alliance will have no effect on the ownership or operation of any of the member hospitals. It is a true partnership."

Each hospital has a physician-hospital organization which also has embraced the alliance, Akin said. There was no specific number of physicians who will be members of the network.

Creation of the alliance is an advance response to debate in Washington over health care reform, Akin said.

"Obviously, changes are occurring because of these types of concerns," she said. "We are making the marketing changes before the other changes occur."

Arrowhead Health Network and its physician organizations will be positioned to contract with managed care organizations to provide geographic coverage, a comprehensive range of services and significant market share, read the group's announcement Monday.

"All the major players in this alliance have significant existing market share, but we don't know what it will be like in the future," Akin said.

Network members offer a large primary care delivery system, including physicians, clinics and other health services, the announcement read. …

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