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Editorial: CRH, Schneck partnership beneficial for all patients

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Residents in and around Bartholomew and Jackson counties should be encouraged that two key health systems in the area are collaborating instead of competing to provide quality, affordable health care and improve patient experiences.

Columbus Regional Health and Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, two of the largest employers in their communities, have formed inSPIRE Health Partners, a clinically integrated network that will begin offering services to its members in 2015. It’s not a merger, but an expansion of past partnerships between the two.

That’s notable because both have been recognized nationally for outstanding care. In 2011 Schneck received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, a nationwide honor for performance excellence. Columbus Regional was a finalist for the award in 2006 and 2008.

The hospitals are working to make their software systems compatible with each other so all patient information can be easily shared. That’s important because all of the resources of each hospital would be available to help patients. Shared information will help in the management of patients’ chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and would eliminate the need for a doctor to order a test that another already has.

Also, the hospitals are establishing one set of measures for patient care that both will adhere to, so there’s no differences in the standards doctors, nurses and other staff are striving to achieve.

Navigators at both hospitals will help patients move through the system, including keeping track of appointments.

These efforts are important because the new health care law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, pushes for models that reward health providers for not duplicating tests and eliminating unnecessary procedures and services. In the past, providers were rewarded based on the volume of services provided.

The hospitals are backing their network by offering it to all their employees. So is Columbus-based SIHO Insurance Services, which also plans to offer the network as one of the benefits packages the company provides to 100,000 Hoosiers.

The new health network is looking to add more employers to the mix. If it is successful, other insurance companies could offer inSPIRE Health Partners to their customers.

With great demand locally and nationwide for affordable, quality health care, it’s a good sign for area residents that two local health leaders are taking the initiative to control costs, improve patient experiences and meet the demands of the new health care law.

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