Penn Medicine, Independence Blue Cross ink 5-year deal to innovate, share data and address care gaps

Independence Blue Cross and the University of Pennsylvania Health System have signed a 5-year partnership.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System and Independence Blue Cross have agreed to what they describe as a 5-year "groundbreaking" partnership to innovate healthcare, share data and address care gaps for beneficiaries.

Penn Medicine and Independence signed the contract, which begins July 1 and incorporates the system into the insurer’s Independence Facilitated Health Network model, at a ceremony Wednesday, according to an announcement. The program emphasizes data sharing, care coordination and shared accountability for both healthcare costs and care quality.

“This is a significant advancement in how we collaborate with hospitals and doctors to ensure our members, and the community-at-large, receive quality care at an affordable price,” Independence CEO Daniel Hilferty said in the announcement.

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One of the most notable features of the partnership is a 30-day readmissions guarantee to patients admitted to the system's hospitals. If patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, neither they nor the insurer will be charged for it. The novel approach is designed to encourage better care coordination and patient monitoring between Penn Medicine, Independence and post-acute providers. Both parties hope that the program, the first of its kind in Pennsylvania and one of few instituted nationwide, can be a model for other providers, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Data sharing is another key factor of the partnership, according to the announcement. By combining claims data, the organizations believe they will have a more complete picture of potential care gaps so that both Independence and Penn can work to address them. It also will provide doctors with quick access to trend data on specialist and facility use, drug prescribing and preventable emergency care visits.

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An Independence clinical care team will also be on-site at the system's facilities to work with doctors on cost management, and they will regularly participate in group discussions to map the regional patient population and share best practices.

Ralph Muller, Penn Medicine CEO, said in the announcement that Independence was a frequent collaborator before, so the 5-year deal is merely a continuation of their longstanding relationship.

“Every day, our physicians and staff at Penn Medicine will be working together with our colleagues at Independence to improve quality of care, decrease costs of providing it, and most importantly, putting all of that together to keep our patients healthy,” he said.

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