October 10, 2003

Vanderbilt sells ownership interest in Signature

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Neil Osheroff, Ph.D.

Vanderbilt sells ownership interest in Signature

In a Sept. 29 e-mail message to employees, VUMC announced it had sold its ownership interest in Signature Health Alliance, a state-wide managed care preferred provider organization currently covering health care benefits for some 200,000 Tennesseans.

Vanderbilt founded the company in 1984 in partnership with St. Thomas Hospital and the now defunct Nashville Memorial Hospital. At the time of the sale, Vanderbilt owned 50 percent of the company; St. Thomas, which owned the other half, also joined in the sale to middle Tennessee-based HealthSpring.

“In the early 1980s, with managed care moving into Tennessee, VUMC and its partners saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and grow a preferred provider organization of their own that would be controlled by doctors and hospitals instead of answering to managed care corporations,” said Bev Coccia, director of Managed Care Sales and Services, who helped arrange the sale for Vanderbilt.

“Recently VUMC reassessed its ownership interest in the company, particularly in light of the medical center’s core missions of patient care, education and research. The sale of the university’s interest in Signature came in the context of that reassessment.”

The Signature network includes approximately 200 hospitals and 12,000 physicians. Terms of the sale continued Signature’s existing contracts with Vanderbilt University Hospital, Vanderbilt Medical Group, and VUMC’s various health care partners in middle Tennessee for a period of five years.