Thursday, October 08, 2015

Hospital "Alliance" Antitrust Concerns? Flagler, Baptist and Southeast Georgia "Regional Alliance?

Another word for "alliance" is "cartel." Not one word from anyone opposed to this action. Not one word from any antitrust expert. Not one word of how this will affect competition between hospitals or prices or the quality of health care. Not one word from a government regulator.
This coverage stinks.
If the Record practiced more investigative journalism, we'd know more -- this is little more than a dupey press release.
Thus, I have asked the Honorable William J. Baer, the Assistant Attorney General for Justice Department Antitrust Division to examine this "alliance" and perform a civil, criminal and administrative investigation under the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts.
Let justice be done.
Update: I have asked Flagler Hospital, Inc., and now its lawyers, for market definition and antitrust analysis (and any filings with USDOJ).  Flagler Hospital and Baptist are competitors, not in adjoining markets, it would appear -- let's see what their data purports to show!  See list of Flagler Hospital Directors, below the Record article.

Flagler Hospital forms regional alliance with Baptist Health and Southeast Georgia Health System
Posted: October 7, 2015 - 8:13pm | Updated: October 8, 2015 - 12:09am
Flagler Hospital has formed a regional alliance with Baptist Health and Southeast Georgia Health System called Coastal Community Health.
The three health systems serve separate but contiguous markets spanning from Brunswick, Georgia, to Jacksonville to St. Augustine and will continue to operate independently as locally governed, community-based health systems.
Joe Gordy, president and CEO of Flagler Hospital, said the goal is for each of the three systems to achieve the efficiencies of scale that will provide the best care at the lowest cost.
“We’re no longer a hospital; we’re a health system,” Gordy said. “We’re now, as a group, responsible for all the patients, all the time, no matter what setting or whose care they are in.”
Hugh Greene, president and CEO of Baptist Health, will serve as initial CEO of Coastal Community Health. Gordy and Michael Scherneck, president and CEO of Southeast Georgia Health System, will serve as executive vice presidents of Coastal.
All three will maintain their roles as CEOs of their respective health systems.
The Coastal Board of Directors is comprised of 12 members — three each from Flagler Hospital and Southeast Georgia Health System and six from Baptist Health.
Baptist Health is the largest health system in the alliance with five hospitals, 1,144 beds and 10,165 employees. Southeast Georgia Health System consists of two hospitals, 356 beds and 2,165 employees. Flagler Hospital is a 335-bed facility with 2,023 employees.
The board chair for the initial three-year term is H. Clark Alger of Flagler Hospital’s Board, who retired as executive vice president of operations for Delta Airlines after a 32-year career.
The vice chair is Michael D. Hodges of Southeast Georgia Health System’s board, who currently serves as market president and director of Ameris Bank in Brunswick.
Gordy said the three systems will continue to operate autonomously, although board approval will be required for larger decisions.
“This is a very important affiliation and an opportunity to position ourselves to thrive in the future as a highly integrated network of community-based, locally governed health systems,” Greene said in a media release. “Together, we believe we can expand access to health care services in our regions and further our mission to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve.”
Gordy said it was the responsibility of each hospital to lower costs while maintaining quality of care as patients were faced with increasingly high deductibles and employers continued struggling with increasing health care costs.
“I figured we needed to engage in a series of partnerships to manage the cost and quality of care,” Gordy said. “There was no other way.”
Gordy said it’s mainly the physicians who can control the costs of health care whereas the hospital supports them. To this end, the hospital formed a partnership with independent physicians in May 2013 called First Coast Health Alliance.
He said there are now more than 200 physicians in that alliance with the goal being to foster collaboration and increase efficiency.
Preventative care has been identified as one of the ways to ultimately decrease costs. Several initiatives of Coastal Community Health will focus on wellness, patient education, chronic disease management and care coordination.
About one dozen workgroups comprised of staff from each health system were formed to look at different initiatives including enhancement of child health services and disaster planning.
The Players’ Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville is expanding into Georgia, bringing child health education and safety promotion programs. In 2016, those programs will start expanding into St. Augustine and St. Johns County.
The Coastal Disaster Planning and Mutual Aid Workgroup has prepared a Mutual Aid and Transfer Agreement in the event of a disaster such as a hurricane. Joint exercises across the three health systems will also be conducted, including joint FEMA training.
Leadership staff from each health system are now working on a collective strategic plan, led by the Coastal Community Health Board of Directors, to prioritize initiatives and set targets for the affiliation’s first five years.
Gordy said there’s been a shift in hospital administration toward population health management.
“You’re not just concerned about the single patient in front of you — you’re concerned about groups of people,” he said.
He said in treating people with congestive heart failure or diabetes, for example, hospitals are taking steps to help patients avoid unnecessary or repetitive trips to the emergency room.
Gordy said everything it takes to do population health management, however, takes an enormous investment in infrastructure, particularly IT infrastructure, data analytics and people.
“There’s a huge overhead attached to it, which could rob the whole system of savings without scale,” he said.
That’s where the alliance with Baptist Health and Georgia Southern came in.
“We knew we needed a partnership to achieve scale and we’ve found that here,” he said. “Flagler has no interest in being bought or being controlled by another entity. We have no reason to want to do that.”

Ed's addendum:
Here's the Flagler Hospital Boards of Directors, containing some of the "usual suspects":

Flagler Hospital Board of Trustees

  • Len Tucker, Chairman
  • Bill Abare
  • Matt Baker
  • Jeff Kamm
  • Bill Kopf
  • Ray Matuza
  • Todd Neville
  • Brad Runk
  • Susan Ponder-Stansel
  • Stuart Soroka, MD
  • Karen Taylor
  • Susan Yarian, MD
  • Len Weeks
  • President, Medical Staff
  • President, First Coast Health Alliance

Flagler Health Services Board Members

  • Karen Taylor, Chairman
  • Shelby Cline, M.D.
  • Brian Crevasse
  • Chris Kamienski
  • Rob Matthews
  • Christine McGlade
  • Jane West

Flagler Health Care Foundation, Inc. Board of Trustees

  • Ray Matuza, Chairperson
  • Michael A. Davis, Vice-Chairperson
  • Cathy Burkhardt, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Mark Bailey, Sr.
  • Katherine Batenhorst
  • Jane Boles
  • Stella Brown
  • Suzanne Brown
  • Christine Chapman
  • J.B. Coomes
  • Brad Cooper
  • Meg DiBella
  • Andrew DiFeo
  • Sue Foley
  • John Gebert
  • Michelle Grobman
  • Tawhid Hossain, M.D.
  • Guy Jopling
  • Melissa S. Kauttu
  • William Kopf
  • Jennifer Koppman
  • Elena Laguardia
  • Derek Muehrcke, M.D.
  • Bill Mignon
  • Norman Nelson
  • Brendan O'Connell
  • Pat O'Connell
  • Gregory Oxford, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D.
  • Reuben Plant, Jr., M.D.
  • William Platko, M.D.
  • Frederick Rendall
  • Jeani H. Taliaferro
  • Len Tucker
  • Len Weeks
  • Bruce Witten, M.D.

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