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Piedmont and Wellstar Announce Partnership to Form Georgia Health Collaborative

The two hospital systems are joining forces for a new collaborative that will focus on development of innovative healthcare delivery models.

Piedmont Healthcare and WellStar Health System, two leaders in the metro-Atlanta healthcare market, announced a partnership to create the Georgia Health Collaborative, a first of its kind in the state.

The new Collaborative will establish services and initiatives focusing on the development of innovative healthcare delivery models, economically aligned physician relationships and the creation of service line cost savings.

The formation of the Collaborative, which comes on the heels of other recently announced collaborations across the country, allows Piedmont and WellStar to share intellectual knowledge concerning clinical care and seek cost reductions through economies of scale.

The two not-for-profit health systems will remain independent but, through the Collaborative, serve a primary service area population of more than three million across north Georgia. With a combined 2,393 hospital beds, 10 hospitals, seven urgent care centers and more than 700 physicians in the Piedmont Physicians Group, Piedmont Heart Institute, and the WellStar Medical Group, the Collaborative will redefine the delivery of healthcare services in metro-Atlanta.

“We believe that the future of healthcare in America is through organizations working together and partnering and not through owning and controlling,” stated Reynold J. Jennings, president and CEO of WellStar, in a release. “We want to bring the best in healthcare delivery together to share best practices and create innovations that will improve healthcare for all Americans while reducing costs.”

Piedmont and WellStar are uniquely positioned to work together to achieve improved clinical results and reduction in costs as dictated in the 2010 federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Health systems that have a broader geographic reach and larger population base will be best suited to react to and sustain operations regardless of future federal and state legislative outcomes.

“Bringing the best of Piedmont and WellStar together in this collaborative opens up a world of possibilities, from clinical discovery and care delivery innovations to developing products and services that truly move the market,” stated Patrick M. Battey, M.D., chairman of the Piedmont Healthcare Board of Directors and interim CEO of Piedmont Healthcare in a release. “This is a powerful step for our organization.”

Piedmont and WellStar will be founding partners of the Collaborative, which may add affiliate hospitals or health systems in the future. A Board of Directors for the Collaborative will be established and will include the system chairman of the Board, the CEO or COO of both health systems and two additional members from each system.

“Even the strongest health systems recognize that creating a sustainable healthcare industry is going to require significant change. A collaborative allows us to create both scale and efficiency without the same debt and integration challenges that come with expansion or acquisition,” said Gregory A. Hurst, president and interim chief operating officer at Piedmont. “Our systems seem perfect for this type of partnership.”

“This is an exciting day for WellStar and the Atlanta healthcare industry” said Janie Maddox, chairman of the WellStar Board of Trustees. “Innovative programs and partnerships such as this demonstrate WellStar’s commitment to the delivery of world-class healthcare for every patient.”

Frank Lordeman, managing partner and CEO of Lordeman & Associates, will serve as executive director of the Collaborative. Lordeman recently helped establish the Community Health Collaborative, LLC in Cleveland, Ohio which is very similar to the Georgia Health Collaborative. There, three health systems came together in suburban Cleveland to create an organization large enough to survive – and prosper – in the new era of healthcare delivery.

Specific programs of the Collaborative are currently under discussion, but could include projects such as patient care access enhancements, joint ventures and the expansion of the Accountable Care Organization network.

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