Group Health and Providence announce creation of a new integrated physician organization

SPOKANE, Wash., Aug. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Providence Health Care (PHC) and Group Health Cooperative have signed an agreement to form a new jointly owned company that will create the region's most comprehensive physician organization.  The new organization will work with other health insurance companies and health care purchasers to manage care for patients across the region with more coordinated, seamless and affordable care.

The two entities will form a new limited liability corporation (LLC) that allows physicians from both organizations to work together in innovative ways to improve the overall delivery of health care services in Spokane.   This is not a merger or an acquisition.

"First and foremost, this comprehensive physician organization allows us to better care for our patients," says Mike Wilson, chief executive of Providence Health Care in Eastern Washington.  "By improving coordination and communication among care givers who utilize the best evidence-based medicine, we will be able to improve quality.  At the same time, we will help patients access the right kind of care at the most appropriate time and in the most appropriate setting.  The result will be better health outcomes for patients, less duplication, and an overall reduction in cost," says Wilson.

The new organization will be made up of health care providers from Group Health Physicians, Providence Medical Group (PMG) and Columbia Medical Associates (CMA). At the center of the integrated physician group are 132 primary care physicians who will serve as the medical home for patients throughout the region. These primary care physicians will coordinate patient care among specialists, urgent care centers and hospitals, including Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital and Holy Family Hospital. Altogether, the organization will be the largest coordinated delivery system in the region, with access to nearly 400 physicians and advanced practitioners.

Patients will notice a better health care experience because the providers from whom they seek care have committed to practice medicine collaboratively – by developing joint clinical programs, adopting best practices in evidence-based medicine and engaging in shared decision making with patients.  When care is better coordinated, quality is improved and unnecessary tests and visits are avoided, which help bring health care costs down and make care more affordable.

The provider organization will initially serve Providence employees and Group Health patients who seek care from providers working at Providence Medical Group, Group Health or Columbia Medical Associates clinics beginning in January 2013.

Once fully operational later this year, the physician organization will be offered to other health insurance companies and health care purchasers as a provider network option in the health care products offered to enrollees.

"Group Health and Providence are equally committed to finding local solutions to fix our broken health system by creating a patient-centered, clinically integrated delivery organization to care more effectively for residents of our community and the surrounding region," says Kelly Stanford, vice president of market development for Group Health Cooperative. "By drawing on the strengths and capabilities of both organizations and through new models of payment to providers, our integrated physician organization will achieve three goals – enhance patient health, improve the patient care experience, and decrease the overall cost of care," continues Stanford.

About Providence Health Care
Providence Health Care is a member of Providence Health & Services, a not-for-profit Catholic health care ministry committed to providing for the needs of the communities it serves – especially for those who are poor and vulnerable. The health system, which affiliated with Swedish Health Services in 2012, employs more than 65,000 people across five states – Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and Washington. In Eastern Washington, the Providence Health Care network of services includes Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital and Providence Holy Family Hospital – both nationally recognized for quality care, as well as two critical access hospitals in Colville and Chewelah; and a full continuum of services including home health, assisted living, adult day health, skilled nursing care, and PAML medical laboratories.  Providence Medical Group of Eastern Washington includes 275 physicians and advanced practitioners (physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners).  Its medical staff includes primary care providers, surgical subspecialists and medical specialists. For more information, visit

About Group Health
Group Health is one of the nation's leading nonprofit health systems, recognized for its consumer-governed cooperative origins and innovative solutions for improving care. Established in 1947, Group Health Cooperative, together with its subsidiaries Group Health Options, Inc. and KPS Health Plans, provides health coverage to almost 660,000 residents of Washington state and North Idaho. More than 420,000 members receive care from Group Health Physicians medical group at Group Health Medical Center locations across the Puget Sound region and Spokane. Group Health advances health in the community through its medical education, charitable foundation, and nationally recognized research institute. Please visit the virtual newsroom on our Web site, under "Newsroom."

SOURCE Providence Health & Services