Highmark, Geisinger complete new joint venture

Geisinger and Highmark Inc. have announced the completion and details of a clinical joint venture involving Clinton, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties that includes new facilities in Lock Haven and Muncy Township.

The organizations signed a letter of intent to explore the joint venture in May 2017, and in the time since have been working together to plan and design new facilities and services that will improve access to needed primary care, specialty care and appropriate acute inpatient care in north central Pennsylvania.

The agreement creates a new, not-for-profit health care organization that includes existing Geisinger locations and developing new facilities to expand access to care for those who need it most in a four-county region covering Clinton, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties. The new health care organization will include existing Geisinger Clinics and Careworks Urgent Care facilities in the Lock Haven and Williamsport areas to serve as key access points to care in the new health care organization.

“We always strive to work with forward-thinking provider partners who have a shared vision to improve health care and create positive experiences for members and patients,” said Deborah Rice-Johnson, president, Highmark Health Plan. “Geisinger and Highmark have worked together for many, many months to design a collaboration that will bring innovative, value-based care models to consumers in north central Pennsylvania.”

The joint venture will serve both Highmark and Geisinger Health Plan members — including those in Medicare Advantage Plans –as well as patients with other insurance plans, Rice-Johnson added.

“This is an important step forward for health care in the communities of north central Pennsylvania,” said Jaewon Ryu, MD, interim president and CEO of Geisinger. “Geisinger and Highmark are committing more than $100 million to improve existing clinical facilities, develop new ones, expand services and improve access to care across the region, underscoring our shared commitment to the region and the patients we serve. Through this collaboration, we will continue our work to deliver high-quality care to patients whenever and wherever they need it.”

Rice-Johnson and Dr. Ryu also noted that the new organization will work with independent physicians and community-based hospitals in the area to maintain access to care for regional consumers.

NEW CLINICAL

FACILTIES

In Lock Haven, a new two-story facility will be constructed, offering a walk-in urgent care center, adult and pediatric primary care offices and imaging and lab services. The new facility will also house physical and occupational therapy, as well as a specialty clinic with dermatology, cardiology, gastroenterology, surgery and women’s health services.

In the Williamsport area, a new three-story, 119,500 square foot hospital and healthplex will be constructed in Muncy Township to meet emergency, routine and acute care needs. The new facility will include a full-service emergency department, as well as imaging and lab services. Medical oncology services, chemotherapy preparation and general surgery services will also be available.

For more routine care, the healthplex will include a multi-specialty clinic with adult and pediatric primary care, orthopedics, cardiology, ophthalmology, pulmonary services and women’s health services.

For hospital care, the Muncy Township facility will also house a state-of-the-art operating suite and 20 inpatient beds.

“One of the most exciting features of the new relationship between Highmark and Geisinger is the way we will care for our patients and members,” said Dr. Ryu. “We are transforming how care is delivered in this new HealthPlex in Muncy Township. Using telemedicine technology, patients will have access to specialists in Danville and across the Geisinger system without having to travel. This not only improves quality, access and convenience, but has the added benefit of reducing health care costs.”

IMPROVING

EFFECTIVENESS AND REDUCING COSTS

The care delivery and payment models of the new health care organization are also designed to improve efficiency and effectiveness and reduce health care costs.

“We have been caring for the people of north central Pennsylvania for more than 100 years, and as health care evolves we are looking to the future and anticipating what is needed to create healthy communities,” continued. Ryu. “Alongside Highmark, we are actively taking steps to ensure that patients in these communities, many of whom are underserved, will have access to modern, state-of-the-art facilities and receive high-quality, affordable local care.”

One of the ways the new venture supports healthier communities, is by incentivizing physicians to keep their patients healthier through better care coordination and disease management, such as ensuring patients receive recommended screenings and other preventive measures.

“By working together, sharing current resources and investing in new resources, I am confident that this new organization will achieve the goals of improved care efficiency and effectiveness and reduced costs,” said Rice-Johnson. “Through evidence-based care, population health management and value-based physician payment programs, this new health care organization will bring greater value and lower costs to north central Pennsylvania.”

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