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Clinically Integrated Network Wants to Collaborate with Payers

By Philip Betbeze  
   June 12, 2015

One of the chief goals of the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network is to encourage competitive state markets for commercial health plans. "We want to have providers and payers actively collaborate to provide patients with high-quality, efficiently coordinated, and cost-effective healthcare services," says its executive director.

"See Seven States!"

That's one of the slogans motorists in the Southeast see painted on countless barns and billboards advertising Rock City Gardens, a tourist destination just south of the Georgia border from Chattanooga, TN. The ad claims that on a clear day, visitors can see parts of up to seven states from the top of Lookout Mountain, where Rock City is located.

It's a highly dubious claim.

But from a strategic perspective, Nashville-based Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network is drawing on a foundation of physician-driven population health management to establish a vision among the region’s top healthcare providers to improve the quality and cost of care across the region. The network is the largest provider-organized network of doctors, regional health systems, and other healthcare providers in Tennessee.


Mark Cianciolo

A key tenet of VHAN is to provide organizations with the chance to collaborate to improve the delivery of healthcare while maintaining their independence. VHAN’s executive director, Mark Cianciolo, says with healthcare going through a rapid period of change, VHAN is committed to supporting providers in developing innovative solutions to support the transformation close to home.

Why a regional network? In Tennessee alone, the network consists of 11 independent hospitals or health systems and more than 50 hospitals overall. As it stands, VHAN consists of a group of doctors, health systems, and others that actively collaborate to provide coordinated and high quality healthcare services to people who access care within the network.

Cianciolo says that in some ways, VHAN is working with other health systems to determine how to organize healthcare locally while participating in statewide or regional opportunities to collaborate with employers and payers to provide high quality care and reduce purchaser costs.

But at minimum, the network will scale some back-office functions to support using a common technology platform as well as other agreements that will realize economies of scale where possible.

Competition Encouraged
One top strategic goal is to create a more pro-competitive and collaborative environment for commercial health insurers. Cianciolo says that without true supportive leadership, healthcare providers will miss the opportunity to align the interests of physicians, hospitals, and payers to improve care for patients and the communities that they serve.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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