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An Independent Community Health System Carves Its Own Niche

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, February 21, 2014

In case you missed my story in this month's HealthLeaders magazine, Phelps was my lead source. He represents an organization that, while simultaneously resisting the siren call of acquisition, is taking advantage of the way healthcare is consumed in a system where value is the currency of growth.

Ridgeview's early results are an example of what can be accomplished, he says. The health system stands out because it is doing something about the worry that small community hospitals and health systems soon won't be able to compete with regional or even national giants.

The light at the end of the tunnel that Phelps sees involves envisioning a future where small organizations can thrive—and then creating it. That's the only way to compete with systems that are growing through acquisition. Additionally, with an accountable and transparent healthcare organization, you can partner with bigger systems.

Ridgeview's ACO strategy revolves around a wholly owned subsidiary of the health system. In the worst case, that arrangement allows the system to enter limited value-based agreements with payers and independent physicians. However, Phelps is shooting for a bigger goal.

"The upside would be that we could enter total cost of care contracts and change the way we deliver care," he says. "Also, it allows us to create relationships with independent physicians that are just short of ownership and joint venturing."

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