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Table of Contents Sales & Marketing ................................................................................................................. 3 Finance ................................................................................................................................. 6 Technology .......................................................................................................................... 11 Strategy .............................................................................................................................. 15

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Sales & Marketing Yampa Valley Medical Center Joins Mayo Clinic Care Network March 06, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Spring, Colo., has joined the Mayo Clinic Care Network. The Mayo Clinic Care Network, established by Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, is a network of hospitals and health systems that work to improve the quality and delivery of care in their regions. The collaboration gives providers around the nation access to Mayo Clinic’s expertise. Yampa Valley clinicians now have access to various Mayo Clinic resources such as the AskMayoExpert database and electronic consulting that connects physicians with Mayo Clinic experts to answer questions about diagnosis, care management or therapy, according to a news release. The deal does not involve a change in ownership. The network launched in 2011 and has member organizations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wisconsin, as well as Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, MinuteClinic to Collaborate Clinically March 06, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review New Brunswick, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and MinuteClinic, the retail health arm of CVS Caremark, have signed a clinical collaboration agreement to improve care quality at walk-in clinics in two counties. Under the agreement, RWJ primary care physicians will collaborate with MinuteClinic’s nurse practitioners, and the two organizations will work together on patient education and disease management initiatives. Additionally, RWJ and MinuteClinic plan to work toward integrating their electronic medical record systems. “As we continue to move forward in the post-healthcare reform environment, a greater emphasis will be placed on prevention initiatives. Our partnership with MinuteClinic aligns perfectly with our mission of encouraging and promoting wellness in the communities served by our health system,” Joshua Bershad, MD, MBA, senior vice president and CMO at RWJ, said in a news release.

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This is MinuteClinic’s 32nd relationship with a hospital or health system. “Robert Wood Johnson is a significant addition to the list of clinical collaborations we have developed throughout the United States,” Andrew Sussman, MD, president of MinuteClinic and senior vice president/associate CMO of CVS Caremark, said in the release. “We look forward to having RWJ physicians collaborate with MinuteClinic’s nurse practitioners to provide quality support, teaching and back-up so MinuteClinic can provide the best care at the lowest overall cost to New Jersey residents.”

Tenet, Yale New Haven Form Regional Partnership March 06, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review For-profit hospital chain Tenet Healthcare Corp. has created a strategic alliance with Yale New Haven (Conn.) Health System in a bid to gain scale in the greater Northeast. Under terms of the deal, Dallas-based Tenet and Yale New Haven would remain independent but would forge new partnerships together. Similar joint ventures have popped up in the past few years between large investor-owned companies and academic medical centers: LifePoint Hospitals in Brentwood, Tenn., and Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C., created Duke LifePoint Healthcare in 2011. Community Health Systems in Franklin, Tenn., and Cleveland Clinic built an alliance last year. Officials said the core goals of the partnership will include enhanced care coordination in the region, clinical integration with local physician groups and the establishment of value-based contracts with payers and employers. Tenet is in the process of acquiring four hospitals in the area: Eastern Connecticut Health Network, which includes 249-bed Manchester (Conn.) Memorial Hospital and 102-bed Rockville General Hospital in Vernon; Greater Waterbury (Conn.) Health Network, which includes Waterbury Hospital, a 357-bed teaching facility; and Bristol (Conn.) Hospital. Tenet is working to finish definitive agreements, and the potential deals still require approval from several Connecticut regulators. If approved, Yale New Haven would receive minority stakes in the hospitals. Vanguard Health Systems originally drove the transactions, but they became part of Tenet’s portfolio after the company acquired Vanguard last October for $1.8 billion in cash and the assumption of $2.5 billion of debt. The new alliance could help Tenet and the three-hospital Yale New Haven finalize the pending transactions. In Connecticut, for-profit entities cannot become members of a medical foundation. However, if hospitals want to acquire hospitals and employ physicians, they may be able to create joint ventures with nonprofit partners, like the ones Tenet has proposed. Gov. Dannel Malloy has stymied legislation on the issue in the past, and many within Connecticut have opposed Tenet’s entrance into the market.

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MinuteClinic, Main Line Health Clinically Affiliate March 05, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Radnor, Pa.-based Main Line Health has signed a clinical collaboration agreement with MinuteClinic, the retail health arm of CVS Caremark, to enhance care access. Physicians in Main Line Health’s network will serve as collaborating physicians for MinuteClinics in three counties as part of the agreement. The two organizations will work together on patient education and disease management initiatives. “We look forward to having Main Line Health physicians collaborate with MinuteClinic’s nurse practitioners to provide quality support, teaching and back-up so MinuteClinic can provide the best care at the lowest overall cost,” Andrew Sussman, MD, president of MinuteClinic and senior vice president/associate CMO of CMS Caremark, said in a news release. Additionally, Main Line Health and MinuteClinic plan to work toward integrating their electronic medical record systems. “Engaging in this new partnership ensures our community has access to basic care when and where they need it, and, when more advanced care is necessary, our Main Line Health team will be available to provide appropriate treatment and an exceptional patient experience,” Jack Lynch, president and CEO of Main Line, said in the release.

Duke LifePoint Completes Wilson Medical Center Joint Venture March 03, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review LifePoint Healthcare in Brentwood, Tenn., and Wilson (N.C.) Medical Center have finalized their joint venture, effective Saturday. Under the agreement, Duke LifePoint owns 80 percent of the 294-bed hospital, and Wilson Medical Center and the community own 20 percent. Additionally, a minimum of $120 million in capital investments will be made at the hospital during the next decade. Wilson Medical Center is now governed by a 10-member board equally represented by Duke LifePoint and community members. The North Carolina attorney general’s office gave the green light to the joint venture earlier last month after the two organizations signed a definitive agreement in January. Duke LifePoint, a joint venture between nonprofit Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C., and for-profit LifePoint Hospitals in Brentwood, has five hospitals within its scope. It also has pending deals with Rutherford (N.C.) Regional Medical Center and Sylva, N.C.-based WestCare Health System.

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Finance Moody’s: Most Hospitals Will See Less Revenue Under Two-Midnight Rule March 14, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review CMS’ two-midnight rule will reduce revenue for most hospitals when it takes effect this October, according to a report from Moody’s Investors Service. The two-midnight rule was established by the 2014 Medicare inpatient prospective payment rule. According to the policy, inpatient admissions spanning at least two midnights qualify for Medicare Part A payments. Inpatient stays lasting fewer than two midnights must be treated and billed as outpatient services. CMS introduced the policy to better monitor Medicare reimbursement for short inpatient stays and ensure inpatient admissions are medically necessary. Hospital leaders, physicians and healthcare groups have fiercely opposed the rule, saying it is unclear and undermines the medical judgment of physicians. Moody’s expects the rule to weaken hospital operating profitability in calendar year 2014 and beyond as it lowers Medicare reimbursement, although the regulation’s impact will vary across the nonprofit hospital sector. Here are six key observations from the report on what the two-midnight rule means for hospitals. 1. The rule could decrease revenues for hospitals by $3,000 to $4,000 per case as more stays are classified as outpatient. Inpatient stays have Medicare reimbursement rates that are, on average, two or three times higher than outpatient cases, according to Moody’s. 2. The two-midnight rule is expected to speed up the decline in inpatient volumes as care shifts to an outpatient setting. The rule adds to other pressures driving the rise in outpatient admissions, including Medicare reviews of medical necessities and changes in care delivery models. 3. Low-acuity community hospitals will see the biggest impact, since they tend to have a greater share of cases that involve short hospital stays, according to Moody’s. These hospitals with low average lengths of stay are generally smaller, lower-rated and are therefore less capable of handling reduced revenue than other hospitals. 4. The drop in revenue will also affect all hospitals that rely on inpatient care for most of their operating profit, regardless of their size. For this reason, tertiary hospitals and academic medical centers that focus on inpatient care will see negative financial effects. Meanwhile, hospitals that perform large numbers of surgeries on an inpatient basis won’t be hit as hard, since CMS classifies many inpatient surgeries as “inpatient only.”

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5. Moody’s anticipates smaller hospitals with less integrated staffs will be at a disadvantage when it comes to adapting to the rule change. While larger hospitals probably won’t have problems enacting physician documentation changes to ensure compliance with the rule, smaller hospitals with limited medical and support staffs may face challenges. 6. The two-midnight rule could have one upside for hospitals: Moody’s predicts the new regulation could ease the pressure of Medicare recovery audit contractor reviews. RACs have reviewed the medical necessity of many short-stay admission claims, contributing to the shift from inpatient care to outpatient settings and reducing hospital revenue. By clearing up any ambiguity regarding short-stay admissions, the two-midnight rule could make the RAC situation less stressful for providers.

Study: Higher copays could curb healthcare costs March 10, 2014 | Fierce Health Payer To cut costs associated with expanding healthcare coverage, insurers should consider increasing copayments, concluded an article in the Journal of Health Economics. The authors looked at thousands of people covered under the Massachusetts healthcare law and found that boosting copayments 10 percent from $20 to $30 would trim healthcare spending by 1.6 percent, according to a research announcement released Friday. They attributed the drop in healthcare costs to greater patient cost-sharing mitigating the moral hazard, in which people engage in risky behaviors knowing insurance will pick up the tab. However, a November 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine debunked the moral hazard theory and found gain or loss of health insurance had no significant connection to changes in health habits, like smoking, weight gain and seat belt avoidance, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. The authors noted that for low-income patients who can’t move toward more appropriate utilization of healthcare services, small bumps in copayments could lead to poorer health and higher downstream costs. That problem could occur within exchange plans that have high deductibles and copays, FierceHealthFinance previously reported. Moreover, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed 34 percent of enrollees in higher-deductible health plans had difficulty paying medical bills, compared to 24 percent in plans with lower deductibles. In California, a new state law that requires insurers to cover autism therapy also shifts the payment of copayments and deductibles onto families, California Healthline reported. Largely thanks to the cost-shifting, almost 20 percent of families receiving autism therapy treatment at regional centers have canceled their children’s health plans.

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Cleveland Clinic’s 2013 Total Profit Exceeds $900M March 10, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Despite a difficult year for many nonprofit hospitals and networks, Cleveland Clinic Health System finished 2013 with large increases in operating income, total profit and revenue. Cleveland Clinic’s total profit last year was $900.1 million, a 46.7 percent jump from fiscal year 2012. Massive investment and derivative gains propelled the system’s growth. Operating profit in 2013 totaled almost $294 million on $6.45 billion of revenue, giving Cleveland Clinic a 4.6 percent operating margin. The operating margin was almost double that of 2012, when the organization posted $157.1 million of operating income on $6.19 billion of revenue. Expenses have been rising rapidly across the hospital sector, but Cleveland Clinic held them in check last year, a major reason why the system was able to post high margins. While revenue increased 4.3 percent year-over-year, Cleveland Clinic’s expenses only rose 2.6 percent. Other financial highlights from Cleveland Clinic’s report include: •

$23.7 million of Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record incentives in 2013, compared with $32.1 million in 2012.

Charity care totaled $171 million, or about 2.7 percent of net patient service revenue.

About 61 percent of net patient service revenue came from commercial payers. Medicare comprised 29 percent, while the remaining 10 percent was Medicaid and self-pay — almost identical to figures from 2012.

Cleveland Clinic Health System operates 11 hospitals with about 3,500 staff beds, including its flagship academic medical center in downtown Cleveland, and it also has an international presence in Canada and United Arab Emirates.

7 Major For-Profit Hospital Companies Post $562M in Quarterly Earnings March 10, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Seven of the largest for-profit hospital operators reported quarterly earnings over the past several weeks. In the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2013, the big seven hospital companies recorded a cumulative net profit of $561.7 million. However, that figure is somewhat skewed as HCA and UHS drove a vast majority of the profit. In addition, several companies continued to post lower earnings and net losses due to soft volumes, acquisition-related costs and high regulatory expenses.

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Here are the quarterly financials of all seven hospital companies, starting with the most recently released. 1. In fiscal year 2013, Franklin, Tenn.-based hospital operator Capella Healthcare lost $31.8 million, which was more than double its $14.1 million loss in 2012. In the fourth quarter alone, Capella lost $14.6 million. 2. Universal Health Services, based in King of Prussia, Pa., posted $124.5 million of net profit in the fourth quarter — an 8 percent drop from the same period in 2012. 3. Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. posted a net loss of $24 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013 — compared with a $49 million profit last year — due mostly to acquisitionrelated costs and higher operating expenses. 4. Net revenue and profit at Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems dropped in the fourth quarter and full year as weak inpatient volumes defined 2013. For the three months ended Dec. 31, net revenue fell 1.4 percent to $3.23 billion. Operating income totaled $52.3 million, a 39 percent decline from $85.6 million posted in the same period a year ago. Total profit slipped 55 percent to $28.2 million. 5. Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint Hospitals recorded $35.6 million of profit in the fourth quarter of 2013, a 1.9 percent drop from $36.3 million in 2012. 6. Franklin, Tenn.-based IASIS Healthcare posted $5.2 million in net income in its first quarter ended Dec. 31, but that number would have been in the red if the company hadn’t sold its Florida market to a competitor. 7. Despite a 1.8 percent drop in same-hospital admissions in the fourth quarter, Nashville, Tenn.-based Hospital Corporation of America still managed to post a $424 million profit — up 35 percent from the fourth quarter in 2012.

Report: Medicare Changes Could Save $900B March 05, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Medicare could save an additional $900 billion during the next decade through structural changes in the healthcare industry that decrease spending, according to a report compiled by healthcare economics consulting firm Dobson DaVanzo for the Federation of American Hospitals. Those structural changes include the shift to value-based payments, increased patient cost-sharing, state initiatives, reductions in healthcare-associated infections and hospital readmissions and a slowdown in the diffusion of expensive technologies like prescription drugs. The report is based on spending data and projections from the Congressional Budget Office, CMS and the Council of Economic Advisers. The CBO’s 2013 long-term budget outlook report projected an average annual rate of excess cost growth of about 0.3 percent for Medicare from 2014 to 2022,

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only slightly faster than the potential GDP per capita. The slow growth rate stems from historically low annual payment updates, pay cuts under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sequestration and scheduled cuts for physicians under the sustainable growth rate. (However, it seems likely Congress will continue to avert SGR cuts or eliminate the SGR rate entirely, leading to higher-than-projected spending growth.) Furthermore, in a separate report released this past August, the CBO concluded the recession didn’t contribute to the recent slowdown in Medicare per-person spending growth, which dropped from 7.1 percent annually between 2000 and 2005 to 3.8 percent between 2007 and 2010. The report speculates changes in the delivery of care that resulted in less volume and intensity and lower costs could have contributed to the slower growth rate, although the CBO ultimately concluded the cause of the slowdown was uncertain. If Medicare spending continues to grow at a slow rate from 2015 through 2024, the FAH report estimates Medicare could see billions in additional savings beyond current CBO projections, reducing the cumulative federal deficit by 12 percent. Overall, the report recommends policymakers “should support and encourage the reform efforts already in motion and allow time for further implementation and evaluation of these efforts before considering any major new structural reforms.� Additionally, hospitals will need capital reserves to invest in infrastructure to accelerate ongoing structural changes in the industry, according to the report.

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Technology ICD-10 transition may cause information loss, financial trouble March 13, 2014 | Fierce Healthcare Just as organizations learned the costs of implementing ICD-10 were likely higher than previously realized, now there is a new headache on the horizon: The transition to ICD-10 may also lead to information and financial losses, according to a study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice. To anticipate challenges providers might face during the transition, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago examined hematology-oncology diagnosis codes because they have fewer ICD10 codes and it’s easier to map them to existing ICD-9 codes. Researchers reviewed ICD-9 data from the 2010 Illinois Department of Medicaid, as well as from the University of Illinois Cancer Center (UICC).They analyzed 120 codes with the highest reimbursement, then mapped the loss of clinical information from that format to ICD-10, according to the study. The transition to ICD-10 led to significant information loss affecting 8 percent of all Medicaid codes and 1 percent of UICC codes, researchers said.Thirty-nine ICD-9 codes with information loss accounted for 2.9 percent of total Medicaid reimbursements and 5.3 percent of UICC billing charges, according to the study. The results are a concern because previous research indicated that hematology-oncology will likely have an easier transition to ICD-10 compared to other sub-specialties. Instead, the study shows information loss will affect billing costs and could cripple a practice financially. ICD-10 includes more than 68,000 diagnostic codes, compared to just 14,000 in ICD-9. A cluster of codes might map to several ICD-10 codes, which might then map back to different ICD-9 codes, study co-author Andrew Boyd, M.D., UIC assistant professor in biomedical and health information science, said an announcement. The report highlights 39 codes “to help identify that there might be trouble with reimburement for these codes,” he said. The findings come in the wake of a recent report that revealed ICD-10 may also jeopardize some hospitals’ credit. Hospitals could experience payment delays and disruptions since ICD-10 affects coding, billing and payment, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

Consumers slow to adopt insurers’ mobile apps March 13, 2014 | Fierce Health Payer Although insurers continue to boost their mobile capabilities, consumers aren’t readily adopting the new tools.

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A new survey from software company FICO found 65 percent of more than 2,000 consumers have never used their smartphone to manage or interact with their insurer. And only 9 percent have managed an insurance policy using their mobile device. “While many insurance firms have built mobile applications, consumer usage is fairly low, as the function of these apps is typically limited to filing a claim or renewing a policy,” Russ Schreiber, who manages FICO’s insurance practice, said yesterday in a statement. Additionally, although many consumers aren’t yet using available mobile tools, 55 percent of the survey participants said they would like policy renewal reminders delivered via email or smartphone, while another 52 percent are interested in receiving alerts about policy changes. “While not everyone has started using mobile devices to interact with their insurance providers, those who do report a significant increase in customer satisfaction,” Schreiber said. “For example, alerts that keep customers up-to-date on their claims are growing. Insurers that create this type of dialogue receive higher recommendation ratings, which often lead to improved sales.” The survey results suggest insurers could take more innovative approaches to their mobile policies, including better identifying usage trends and providing additional values like location-based services. “More consumers will have smartphones and tablets, and these devices will have apps that enable them to do more things wherever they go,” Aimee Lucas, vice president and customer experience transformist at consulting firm Temkin Group, told Insurance & Technology. “To make these experiences work, companies will need to consider how mobile integrates into their product offerings and entire end-to-end experience.”

Fitch: ICD-10 Could Hurt Nonprofit Hospitals’ Credit Ratings March 11, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Revenue stream disruption caused by the ICD-10 conversion has the potential to negatively affect some nonprofit hospitals’ credit ratings, according to a report from Fitch Ratings. Fitch Ratings believes the majority of the rated organizations in the nonprofit healthcare sector will be prepared for the Oct. 1 deadline, and available assets will help offset the IT and training costs during the transition. However, the transition is further complicated by payers’ and the government’s simultaneous switch to ICD-10. Although many hospitals are well-prepared, the sheer magnitude of the transition within the industry is likely to add pressure to hospitals’ cash flows, and may cause downgrades in hospitals with weak liquidity positions or depressed profitability. “It is a challenging time as healthcare reform moves forward and other pressures, such as sequestration, inpatient volume declines and reduced reimbursement are being felt,” said Gary Sokolow, director of Fitch’s U.S. Public Finance Group, in a news release. “ICD-10 conversion will bring additional costs at a time when hospital operations are already under pressure.”

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Report: Global HIE market to reach $878 million by 2018 March 11, 2014 | Fierce Health IT The global healthcare information exchange (HIE) market is expected to grow to $878 million by 2018 from $558 million in 2013, according to a new report from Dallas-based research firm MarketsandMarkets. The report looks at the HIE technology market by set-up type, vendor type, implementation model and applications. U.S. government incentives to improve patient care and safety while also reducing costs are driving the U.S. market, though high implementation costs, slow returns on investment and interoperability issues continue to impede it, according to an announcement. It predicts growth of more than 10 percent in the private HIE market, the largest sector by set-up type, which it attributes to the increased adoption rate, clear business models and rising investments by major HIE vendors. That backs the findings of Black Book, which found public efforts struggling and vendors leading the way in private HIEs. MarketsandMarkets also predicts healthy growth for the web portal development market and interfacing internal applications market as healthcare organizations seek to link applications such as radiology, lab and imaging systems. HIE stakeholders have been reporting progress, though the end of federal funding leaves many organizations still struggling to find a sustainable business model. “Now, after HITECH’s investments, the primary question many experts are struggling with is: What constitutes the right mix of government HIT programs versus market forces to continue development of an HIT infrastructure that can support higher quality, more cost-effective health care?� states a report from the California HealthCare Foundation.

Satisfaction of HIE vendors dips March 11, 2014 | Fierce EMR Satisfaction with health information exchange solutions has dropped an average of 8 percent since last year, as provider demands have outpaced vendor delivery, according to a new report from Orem, Utah-based KLAS Research. The company interviewed 219 HIE providers regarding reliability, relevance and transformation. Three out of the four lower ranked vendors are industry veterans: Medicity, Optum and RelayHealth. Epic scored the highest overall, but its scores were down from the year before. The overall adoption of and satisfaction with HIE-based analytics and patient engagement are moderate to low.

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“What is surprising is that despite the millions of dollars HIE vendors invested to add needed functionality, only about half of them are seeing their provider satisfaction scores improve,” report author Mark Allphin said in a statement. “Payment reform and the future of accountable care continue to keep many vendors struggling to keep up with provider demands.”

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Strategy Duke LifePoint to Acquire Conemaugh Health System March 14, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Brentwood, Tenn.-based Duke LifePoint Healthcare has signed a letter of intent to create a joint venture with Conemaugh Health System in Johnstown, Pa., giving the system its first presence in Pennsylvania. Duke LifePoint, a joint venture between nonprofit Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C., and for-profit LifePoint Hospitals in Brentwood, would pump more than $500 million into Conemaugh during the next decade as part of the deal. Exact ownership stakes involved in the joint venture were not disclosed. The acquisition would include all three of Conemaugh’s hospitals, as well as its outpatient centers and physician practices. Conemaugh executives had been reviewing possible health system affiliations for the past several months. Conemaugh initially revealed it had sent out a request for proposals to find a larger partner this past November. Both organizations will go through due diligence before reaching a definitive agreement. Executives said they expect the transaction to close this fall, pending review from state and federal regulatory agencies. Duke LifePoint and Conemaugh have also created a new website to keep the public informed of the latest developments. Earlier this month, Duke LifePoint and Wilson (N.C.) Medical Center finalized their joint venture. If the Conemaugh deal and other pending acquisitions are approved, Duke LifePoint would oversee 11 acute-care hospitals.

Hospital Sisters Looks to Take Full Ownership of Community Memorial March 13, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Hospital Sisters Health System, based in Springfield, Ill., and Community Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls, Wis., have signed a letter of intent to expand their partnership. HSHS and Community Memorial, a critical access hospital, signed an affiliation agreement in May 2011 centered on physician recruitment and implementation of an electronic health record system. Those goals have since been reached, and now both parties are considering a scenario that would bring Community Memorial into the HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division as a full member.

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Both organizations are undergoing due diligence. A timeline for a definitive agreement was not given. Financial details of a potential deal were not disclosed.

Adequate coverage, timely communication key to member satisfaction March 10, 2014 | Fierce Health Payers More than 40 percent of existing health plan members worry they don’t have enough coverage for routine visits, serious illness or injury, health and wellness programs, routine diagnostics, and drug coverage. What’s more, concerns about not having enough health coverage send overall member satisfaction plummeting by 133 points, according to J.D. Power’s latest Member Health Plan Study, released today. The study measured satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale for members of 136 health plans across 18 U.S. regions and found overall member satisfaction averaged 669 this year. Insurers saw the highest member satisfaction in California and Michigan. In California, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan took the top spot with a satisfaction score of 756, while Health Alliance Plan of Michigan scored the region’s highest at 711. Communication was among six factors measured in the survey, which found members wait an average of eight days to receive communication from their providers after submitting a pre-approval request. “Health plans must look for ways to promptly communicate both pre-approvals and cost in order to minimize member anxiety and mitigate concerns about access to care, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction,” Rick Johnson, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power, said in the study announcement. The survey suggested insurers should better communicate how their insurance works as well improve communication about programs and services that increase member engagement, such as the ability to manage chronic conditions, Johnson told FieceHealthPayer in an interview. “[It] sounds trite in some ways but communication is absolutely key to attracting new members and keeping members satisfied. With the shift to more responsibility for healthcare going to the consumer, those consumers are now looking at healthcare plans with a whole new lens,” Johnson said. The study also asked health plan members about provider choice. Seventy-four percent of members reported they maintained their preferred physician and 83 percent kept their same hospital network in 2013. To keep existing members happy, insurers can use targeted email, phone call or print marketing campaigns to keep them engaged and informed, according to a recent white paper from Frost & Sullivan. Or they can take a page from the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim, who credited a culture of service with achieving top-notch member satisfaction for the Massachusetts nonprofit health plan.

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HCA Completes Acquisition of Grandview Medical Center March 04, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Brentwood, Tenn.-based TriStar Health — a division of Nashville, Tenn.-based Hospital Corporation of America — has completed its acquisition of Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn., from Capella Healthcare. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The 70-bed Grandview is now part of TriStar’s Parkridge Health System in Chattanooga, Tenn. With the acquisition completed, Parkridge includes five facilities in the Chattanooga market. Capella and HCA signed a definitive agreement in January. The two organizations are working closely to make the transition smooth for hospital employees and patients.

Via Christi Health Acquires 100% Ownership of Mercy Regional March 03, 2014 | Becker’s Hospital Review Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan, Kan., is now a full member hospital of Wichita, Kan.based Via Christi Health. Mercy Regional had been a 50-50 joint venture between Via Christi and the Memorial Hospital Association. Via Christi now owns 100 percent of the 150-bed hospital, which was formed in 1996 through a merger between The Saint Mary Hospital and Memorial Hospital. Under the agreement, Via Christi will invest $15.5 million in capital improvements at Mercy Regional, which will be renamed Via Christi Hospital later this year. The capital projects include the expansion of the hospital’s outpatient tower. In addition, the MHA will create a nonprofit foundation to improve healthcare services in the county. The foundation was funded in part through the $7 million sale of Mercy Regional’s Sunset campus to Kansas State University. “We are very excited to fully become a part of Via Christi Health and believe this agreement will strengthen our hospital here and the healthcare services we provide in Manhattan and the region,” John Broberg, senior administrator of Mercy Regional, said in a news release.

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Sutherland insights healthcare news flash march 17, 2014  
Sutherland insights healthcare news flash march 17, 2014