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New Hampshire hospitals, insurer create new company

Three New Hampshire health systems are partnering with an insurer to create a new company that will analyze clinical, financial and operational data to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.

Benevera Health brings together Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Elliot Health System, Frisbie Memorial Hospital and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. The project builds on ElevateHealth, a limited insurance product and network they created in 2013. Like the earlier venture, the new project is focused on care coordination — helping patients navigate the health care system more efficiently — in hopes of both improving outcomes and lowering costs. Health advocates will connect with patients before and after appointments, serving as a link to providers, and the partners will share data so best practices can be spread to other providers. The data analysis also will allow providers to identify patients who might need extra care before their conditions become a crisis.

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"These sound so basic, but it's our fragmented health system that creates challenges for patients and causes them not to get the care they need," said Harvard Pilgrim CEO Eric Schultz. "So coordinating together, the payers and the providers — which is not exactly an easy thing to do across the United States — is really the magic in the sauce here."

The new project is significantly larger in scope than ElevateHealth because it will be implemented for all of Harvard Pilgrim's 180,000 customers, and the partners are investing tens of millions of dollars in technology systems, analytics and personnel, officials said at a news conference Monday. Harvard Pilgrim says it expects 2016 premiums will be about 4 percent lower than they would be without the partnership.

Dr. James Weinstein, CEO of Dartmouth Hitchcock, said the partners are putting themselves on the front lines of one of the nation's biggest problems: the rising cost of health care.

"Employers are paying premiums they don't want, to pay for results they don't want to get," he said. "We're committing ourselves to finding ways to lower the premiums where possible ... to do that, this partnership is a necessity."

"You cannot do that independently as a health system, you can't do that independently as an insurance company," he said. "Each of us is involved in many different kinds of business arrangements that are all too often way too complicated. What we need to do is find simpler ways to work together."

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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