S.C. hospital collaborative formed to save money

By Ashley Barker
Published April 10, 2014
UPDATED: 10:15 a.m., April 11, 2014

Five health care systems in the Palmetto State, including the Medical University of South Carolina, have decided to become founding members of a new collaboration.

MUSC’s board of trustees voted Friday morning to join the Initiant Health Collaborative, along with McLeod Health, Palmetto Health, Greenville Health System and Self Regional Healthcare.

The Medical University of South Carolina’s board of trustees will decide Friday if it will join the Initiant Health Collaborative. (Photo by Ashley Barker)
The Medical University of South Carolina’s board of trustees decided Friday that it will join the Initiant Health Collaborative.
(Photo by Ashley Barker)
The five hospitals will remain independent and each other’s competition. But they will begin sharing basic health system administrative and clinical support functions, according to Dr. Patrick Cawley, executive director and CEO of the MUSC Medical Center.

“The Affordable Care Act is really putting pressure on hospitals to cut costs. This is in direct response to deal with those costs,” Cawley said.

The collaborative will be governed by a board of managers consisting of two voting members and one nonvoting member from each of the hospital systems. The board will meet six times a year, and all major issues will require unanimity since the limited liability company is owned by the founding members.

The board will also designate officials to work on four committees — supply chain-capital spending, contracted services, information technology and population health support.

“If each of us (the hospitals) is buying a CAT scanner, why can’t we all get together and buy them together?” Cawley said. He’d also like to leverage the size of five hospital systems to negotiate cheaper contracts and spread the costs of technology upgrades over a larger body.

“We feel very strong that if the five of us work together and worked on costs together, we could remain independent. But it would send a signal, not only across South Carolina, but across the entire Southeast region, that there’s another group — another player — that you can link up with in order to get through the next realm of health care reform,” Cawley said.

Other nonprofit hospitals that are currently not in collaborative agreements are eligible to become participants of Initiant, which means “initiator” in French. The logo that accompanies the name includes a green greater-than sign designed to invoke the feeling of being stronger as a group.

“We wanted a strategic name, a name that invokes us being out there first and on the cutting edge,” Cawley said.

Health care collaborations are becoming a trend across the country, according to Cawley.

He said Iowa-based University of Iowa Health Alliance — consisting of University of Iowa Healthcare, Genesis Health System, Mercy Health Network and Mercy Cedar Rapids — is an example, along with the BJC Collaborative, which includes BJC HealthCare, CoxHealth, Memorial Health System and Saint Luke’s Health System.

An Initiant Health Collaborative kickoff meeting will be held for senior management in May or June, and the first board meeting will take place on June 5 in Columbia.

Reach Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker.

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