River Health ACO Applies to Participate as Medicare Accountable Care Organization

HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- PinnacleHealth System, Susquehanna Health, Family Practice Center, Annville Family Medicine, Susquehanna Community Health and Dental Center and Laurel Health Centers have applied to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as River Health ACO to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program as an Accountable Care Organization.

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River Health ACO, LLC, was formed on April 15, 2013 to improve the cost, quality, access and patient experience for residents of central Pennsylvania. If approved, River Health ACO will work with CMS to provide Medicare beneficiaries with high-quality care, while reducing the rate of growth in Medicare expenditures. This will be accomplished by focusing more attention on health and wellness, providing additional services to patients with chronic disease conditions and providing better coordination of care.

"The heart of the MSSP program makes sense – putting the patient at the center of care. Patients are assisted in navigating the healthcare system so they get the right care, from the right provider, at the right time and in the right place," said Michael A. Young, president and CEO of PinnacleHealth System. "Plus, they are given appropriate health information and a convenient way to access care so that they are motivated to take their own actions to ensure wellness.  We intend to apply this broadly in our communities."

"By joining together, these leading providers of care are creating a new system of seamlessly providing high quality care in an even more efficient and coordinated manner," said Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Susquehanna Health.  "We have a shared vision of being central Pennsylvania's leading provider of nationally recognized health services with personalized care."

"Our organizations are collectively building on the strong connections we have with each other," said Dominic Ronco, MD, president of Family Practice Center.  "We look forward to providing coordinated care that flows smoothly and effectively."

The physicians and staff of River Health ACO will work with Medicare beneficiaries who have complex chronic conditions, such as diabetes or congestive heart failure, to provide care

management between medical visits. For patients who are well, wellness information and activities, such as screenings and immunizations, will help prevent or detect illness before it becomes serious.

"We as physicians are working with hospital leaders to improve the care we provide, reduce fragmentation of services, improve the overall well-being of our patients, while lowering costs," states Robert Nielsen, MD, president of Annville Family Medicine. "River Health ACO is designed to increase coordination, improve quality and provide needed access to services. CMS recognizes that providers can and will improve care."    

An Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is a network of providers working collaboratively with shared incentives based on quality metrics, patient experience surveys and financial results. Each patient will continue to have an ongoing relationship with their primary care physician. They will be supported with a team of healthcare professionals to provide for all the patient's healthcare needs.  The primary purpose of an ACO is to improve the health of a designated population. Medicare beneficiaries will receive covered services through River Health ACO at no additional cost.

Most ACO advocates believe that coordinating care will also contain costs, but the goal is to curb costs by keeping people healthier, managing chronic diseases and using lower cost alternatives when appropriate.

River Health ACO will provide additional updates upon CMS decision and is plans to offer services to other patient groups.

About PinnacleHealth System

PinnacleHealth is a pioneer not-for-profit healthcare system dedicated to providing and improving the health and quality of life for the people of Central Pennsylvania since 1873. A proven leader in medical innovation, PinnacleHealth offers a wide range of services from primary care to the most complex surgeries and Magnet recognition for nursing excellence. The healthcare network includes four campuses (Community, West Shore, Harrisburg and Polyclinic) and medical services, including family practice, imaging, outpatient surgery and oncology, at multiple locations throughout the region. For a complete list of services, visit our website at www.pinnaclehealth.org.

About Susquehanna Health

Susquehanna Health is a four-hospital integrated health system including Divine Providence Hospital, Muncy Valley Hospital, Soldiers + Sailors Memorial Hospital and Williamsport Regional Medical Center located in North Central Pennsylvania. Serving patients from an 11-county region, Susquehanna Health is a healthcare leader and has been recognized at the national and state levels for quality of care. Susquehanna Health offers a wide array of services that include cancer care, heart and vascular care/heart surgery, neurosciences including neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology, OB/GYN, gastrointestinal services, behavioral health, physical rehabilitation, home care, long term care, assisted living and paramedic/ambulance services.

Media Contact: Christina Persson, PinnacleHealth Systems, (717) 231-8102, cpersson@pinnaclehealth.org

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SOURCE PinnacleHealth Systems



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