Eight Hospitals Form New Value Venture

March 9, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — Spectrum Health and Bronson Healthcare Group of Kalamazoo are two of eight Michigan health systems to create a new coalition aimed at improving the value of health care.

“What they’re going after, which we feel is kind of new in the country, is to be able to drive the value that health systems bring to communities and the state,” said Mary Kay Kempker-VanDriel, who is leaving her post of seven years at the helm of Spectrum’s Healthier Communities to become president of the new organization: Value Health Partners.

“Our main thrust is value in terms of best service at the best price. So we’ll go a little deeper than we typically do and share data, and take a look at where we’re going to make strides and improvements.”

Sue Reinoehl, vice president of strategy and communications at Bronson, said she’s looking forward to the new organization’s first steps, which she expects will focus on community health initiatives and on improving community-based diabetes management.

“I think the biggest focus for us is the opportunity to really learn and implement some of best-practice opportunities faster,” Reinoehl said. “I think one of the things we found, as a Baldridge winner — we won the Baldridge Award back in 2005 — is that sharing best practices is just a phenomenal way to jump-start and move ahead a lot quicker on a lot of programs instead of reinventing the wheel.”

The eight health systems will tear down some walls that today prevent them from working together, Kempker-VanDriel said. For example, they will be open to research being conducted through the other member institutions, she said. That would help to alleviate the problem faced by students and professionals in finding research populations.

The CEOs of the health systems starting meeting about a year ago to formulate the plans, she said. In addition to Spectrum and Bronson, the members include: Covenant HealthCare, Saginaw; Foote Health System, Jackson; Lakeland HealthCare, St. Joseph; Munson Healthcare, Traverse City; Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, Petoskey; and Sparrow Health System, Lansing.

Other information that will be shared includes results and best practices for quality and safety programs and for community-based programs, including those run by Spectrum’s Healthier Communities.

“We all do our quality work, but when you’re in your own system, you really don’t share your data with anybody else,” Kempker-VanDriel said. “This way we’ll show all our blemishes and beauty marks. We’ll take the beauty marks and look to replicate those programs.”

Advocacy is another mission for Value Health Partners.

“We’re going to take a look at where there is opportunity for us to join forces, if you will, and go after things that make sense for these hospitals. We’re not in competition with the MHA; we will continue as members,” she said, referring to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, of which Spectrum President & CEO Richard Breon is chairman. “There are some things we’ll define where it makes sense to advocate for West Michigan” with the state Legislature or even Congress, she said.

Value Health Partner will hire a few staff members and be based in Grand Rapids.

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