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July 10, 2014 Volume 35, No. 33

MU Health Care partners with four other mid-Missouri health systems

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Harold A. Williamson Jr., MU’s executive vice chancellor of health affairs, signed an agreement June 25 making the health collaborative a limited liability company. Photo by Justin Kelley.

Benefits include lower health care costs

Officials announced June 25 the formation of the Health Network of Missouri, made up of four mid-Missouri health systems and hospitals, including MU Health Care.

The network is expected to improve health care in the region through medical collaboration, sharing best practices, improving care access and creating efficiencies that lower health care costs.

“Hospitals and health systems must be innovative in developing ways to improve the health populations, to enhance the experience and outcomes of patients, and to reduce the per capita care for the benefit of our communities,” Harold A. Williamson Jr., MU executive vice chancellor of health affairs, said in the Great Room of Reynolds Alumni Center. 

MU Health Care’s partners are Bothwell Regional Health Center in Sedalia, Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City, Hannibal Regional Healthcare System and Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach.

Although the five health systems have referred patients and worked together informally in the past, it wasn’t until 2011 that the groundwork for the health network began. 

The network allows for sharing of business, clinical and operational practices, and a more effective way to coordinate health care. On June 25, members formalized the collaborative by signing an agreement making it a limited liability company.

Even so, the health entities retain their autonomy. The network is not a merger.

The health network is structured to allow members to work together as partners while enabling each hospital or health system to serve the medical needs of its community, said Glen Nelson, vice chairman of Bothwell’s board of trustees.

Together, the five entities have 1,000 hospital beds, 9,300 employees, and 1,000 employed and affiliated physicians.

“We view this network as a ‘powerful tool for improving the lives of thousands of patients,” said Todd Ahrens, president and chief executive officer of Hannibal Regional Healthcare System.

On the day of the announcement, Williamson’s wife told her husband he must be glad to finally sign the collaborative agreement. Williams said he responded: “I’ll be glad to sign, and now the hard work starts.”