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Area employers learn more about affiliate network’s benefits

Nov. 29, 2012, 10:40 AM

From left, David Hines, of Metro Nashville Public Schools, Roy Elam III, M.D., associate professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt, and Cindy Dempsey, of Nissan North America Inc., talk at the recent Vanderbilt Employer Roundtable. (photo by John Russell)

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and its network affiliates are working directly with employers in the region to improve health for health plan beneficiaries while bringing the overall cost of care under control.

“I am here to get engaged with employers. I want to know what employers are doing and thinking,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System, speaking at the recent Vanderbilt Employer Roundtable, a campus event attended by representatives from several of the region’s largest private and public employers.

The theme of the meeting was the search for value, defined as a healthy and productive workforce at the best health benefit cost.

Last May at the roundtable’s initial meeting, leaders from the employer community discussed what their organizations want and need from health care providers.

At the recent meeting, Pinson noted that Vanderbilt confronts the same health benefit cost pressure as other area employers.

“We’ve got to find a way to provide good and even better patient care that doesn’t cost so much,” he said. An ideal system would provide safe, efficient evidence-based care, no matter where that care occurs. “Routine hospital care does not need to be provided in Nashville.”

The Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network (VHAN), anchored by VUMC and its affiliated community hospitals and clinicians throughout Middle Tennessee, is designed to ensure that care is delivered in the most appropriate setting by the region’s best providers.

Pinson introduced the network and offered his perspective on the benefits of greater integration of health care services. He also outlined several VUMC initiatives to improve the value and reliability of care, including population-based disease management, a team-based approach to diagnose complex patient problems and other programs.

Mark Cianciolo, executive director of Corporate Health and Provider Network Development at VUMC, updated the group about progress toward a clinically integrated network.

• Beginning Jan. 1, VHAN will be offered by Aetna, allowing area employers to use the same network currently offered to VHAN employees and their families. In addition to clinical services, VHAN will offer population-based disease management.

• VHAN is working toward clinical integration within the next 12 to 18 months, with shared medical records and shared programs for quality improvement and disease management.

• VHAN will work directly with large employers on health plan design and provider accountability.
Traci Nordberg, chief human resources officer at Vanderbilt, outlined recent success in controlling the University’s health benefit costs, achieved in part through careful examination of patient testing and treatment patterns and the application of evidence-based guidelines.

John Von Arb, director of human resources for Nissan North America Inc., outlined his company’s progress toward controlling health benefit costs, with strategies ranging from on-site clinics to incentives for annual physicals.

The meeting concluded with a presentation on national politics and the future of health care by Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health.

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