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Our Take: University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt form health network

Oct 01, 2018

University Health Network (UHN) and Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network (VHAN) announced a partnership for value-based health care that reaches throughout the state of Tennessee.

Our TakeLet’s break down the details of this massive alliance.

UHN is a clinically integrated network and Medicare accountable care organization that includes The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC), University Physicians’ Association and other partnering entities throughout eastern Tennessee. UHN represents 87 practices and more than 1,000 physicians, according to the press release issued Wednesday.

VHAN is a network of health systems, physicians and employers formed by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The clinically integrated network includes a dozen health systems, 5,000 physicians and more than 60 hospitals. Health systems that are part of VHAN blanket the state, from West Tennessee Healthcare to the Mountain States Health Alliance in the Tri-Cities.

One important benefit for UHN—and in part what makes this deal consequential—is in-network coverage for people who are insured by VHAN-approved insurance plans.

More important, the network is a value-based model: physicians and hospitals will be paid for outcomes and incentivized to reduce costs. By joining forces, providers expect increased collaboration through data sharing, and better management of chronic diseases.

According to one report, through chronic disease management programs VHAN has been able to improve outcomes, reduce emergency department usage and reduce readmissions for patients with congestive heart failure, COPD and diabetes—all of which have higher than the national average rate for Tennesseans.

This is an ambitious effort between the two academic medical centers to tackle serious population health issues throughout the state of Tennessee.

However, despite the alliance being hailed as such, we weren’t provided any details on exactly how it is value-based. Are there shared savings, and if so, how will that work? Is there a global budget, and if so, who sets it? How are physicians and hospitals incentivized based on outcomes, and who decides what outcomes matter?

We have reached out to officials from UHN and VHAN and will report more here as we learn the specifics.

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