Architect's drawing of Great Plains Regional Medical Center, currently undergoing renovation.
The Great Plains Regional Medical Center in North Platte is considering affiliating with eight other independent hospitals from Scottsbluff to Omaha.
The hospitals would form a new corporation, equally owned among all nine, said Dr. Greg Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer of Great Plains Regional Med Center.
Nielsen said the goal is to improve quality and reduce costs through group purchasing and pooling professional and liability insurance costs.
The nine hospitals have signed a letter of intent to form a governance board that could take charge within 90 days, if all goes well.
Nielsen told the Bulletin that the prospect is theoretical at this time, but one possibility is that the nine hospitals could form an Accountable Care Organization aimed at reducing the costs of care.
ACOs, a provision of Obamacare, resemble Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) that briefly rose to prominence in the 1970s. Like an HMO, an ACO would be ‘held accountable’ for providing comprehensive health services, and would receive financial incentives to do well. In other words, ACOs would be paid according to how healthy people are, instead of receiving pay when people get ill.
ACOs will be evaluated according to how well they provide:
• A good patient/caregiver experience.
• Coordinated care.
• Safety for patients.
• Preventative health care.
• Services to at-risk people, such as the frail and elderly.
Nielsen said the ACOs are for the most part still conceptual, but have been tried in pilot programs in such places such as Los Angeles and Minneapolis.
He said joining with hospitals across Nebraska would enable the med center in North Platte collaborate and share risks and benefits with all of them.
The nine hospitals represent nearly half the of the hospital care in the state.
The nine are: Great Plains Regional Medical Center of North Platte; Bryan Health of Lincoln; Columbus Community Hospital; Faith Regional Health Services of Norfolk; Fremont Area Medical Center; Mary Lanning Healthcare of Hastings; Nebraska Medical Center of Omaha; Methodist Health System of Omaha; and Regional West Health Services of Scottsbluff.