West Valley Physician Organization Partners with Banner Health in CMS selected Medicare Pioneer ACO

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Arizona Integrated Physicians (AIP), a West Valley-based physician organization comprised of more than 600 physicians, has announced that its partnership with Banner Health, the Banner Health Network (BHN), has been selected to participate in the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model, a transformative new initiative sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center. Through the Pioneer ACO Model, BHN will work with CMS to provide Medicare beneficiaries with higher quality care, while reducing growth in Medicare expenditures through enhanced care coordination.

The Pioneer ACO Model is designed to encourage the development of ACOs, which are groups of doctors and other healthcare providers who work together to provide high quality care for their patients. As one in a diverse group of leading-edge health care organizations from around the country, BHN was chosen specifically by the Innovation Center to test the effectiveness of several models of payment in helping organizations make a rapid transition to higher quality care at a lower cost to Medicare.

“These Pioneer ACOs represent our nation’s leaders in health systems innovation, providing highly coordinated care for patients at lower costs," said Marilyn Tavenner, Acting Administrator of CMS. “The Banner Health Network has demonstrated significant experience in providing high quality, coordinated care and we are excited to partner with them," Tavenner said.

AIP, which represents more than 225 separate West Valley primary and specialty care physician practices, believes that the current health care system is too costly and unsustainable. “To ensure continued success, physicians and hospitals will need to partner to lead the transformation to a value-based model of population health management. This call to action is the catalyst for the development of Banner Health Network" said Dr. Thomas Maxwell, III, MD, Chairman of the Board for AIP and an internal medicine physician in Sun City. “This new model of clinical and business alignment will allow BHN participants to create a comprehensive network of providers (hospital, primary care, specialty physicians, post-acute, home care, ancillary, and pharmacy) with payers. BHN and its providers will have the accountability for managing and improving the health and coordination of patient care for Medicare beneficiaries. This new model of care and alignment will provide the opportunity to reward physicians for providing the high quality, patient-centered, cost effective care that they were trained to provide," Maxwell said.

BHN is a patient care and financial accountability partnership between Arizona Integrated Physicians (AIP), a physician-owned organization, Banner Medical Group (BMG) and the Banner PHO (BPHO). This partnership of more than 2,600 primary care and specialty physicians, along with Banner hospitals and other related health care services will serve patients throughout Maricopa County and into Pinal County, a population base of more than 4 million people. Further provider member growth is anticipated as additional physicians and other professionals, particularly in the Central Valley, will be sought.

BHN’s comprehensive provider network accepts patient care and financial accountability for those served by the network. It is one of a few networks in Arizona serving patients in a population health management model. This model offers a highly coordinated patient experience through a primary care setting that seeks to improve patient outcomes. It emphasizes wellness, including wellness at the highest level possible for patients suffering from chronic diseases. A key feature of this patient-centered model is the close collaboration among providers that will result in greater efficiency and improved control of costs. A foundation of the Banner Health Network’s ability to deliver collaborative, highly coordinated and integrated patient care is an enhanced electronic medical records system that is utilized in all Banner hospitals.

“BHN is unique in Arizona in that it is the only organization that integrates and aligns physicians that practice in independent practice across the Valley (AIP in the West Valley and BPHO in the East Valley) and as part of an employed multispecialty group (Banner Medical Group)," stated Dr. Joseph Caplan, the president of AIP and an interventional cardiologist practicing in Peoria. “This provides for distinctive opportunities for peer to peer best practices sharing across varying care delivery platforms and ensures optimal choice of providers in different settings for beneficiaries and insurers."

Under the Pioneer ACO Model, CMS will provide incentive for participating health care providers who form an organization to coordinate care for patients. Providers who band together through this model will be required to meet quality standards based upon, among other measures, patient outcomes and care coordination among the provider team. “This push towards higher quality and controllable costs through a highly coordinated patient care experience must move forward," Banner Health President and CEO Peter S. Fine said. “Our current system in this country isn’t sustainable," he added.

“Through accountable care, the population health management model has real potential to emerge as a key element for controlling the rising costs of health care," said Fine. “Our deep involvement at this early stage of accountable care positions Banner Health and its BHN partners extremely well to thrive during this transformative phase of health care," he added.

“The Banner Health Network will be regarded as a wonderful resource for patients seeking high quality health care in nearly every community within the greater Phoenix area," said Dr. Maxwell. Patients within the BHN can expect enhanced and effective management of chronic diseases, outstanding preventative and wellness programs, and the highest levels of hospital and post-hospital care while optimizing clinical outcomes. “We’re confident this partnership with Banner will serve as a model for similar efforts in cities across the nation," Maxwell continued.

“We’re extremely pleased and proud to be part of the leading edge of an effort that I believe will transform health care delivery in America," said AIP CEO Keith Dines. “In the not-too-distant future we envision BHN to be serving hundreds of thousands of patients who will appreciate the enhanced level of care and service available through BHN."

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