Last month, Saint Thomas Health, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST) and Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance (TOA) announced they have taken an additional step to further their strategic partnership, including plans for an expansion of the Saint Thomas Joint Replacement Institute. Additionally, Saint Thomas Health and TOA have signed a clinically integrated alliance agreement.
Officials with Saint Thomas Health said the agreements align with the health system's approach to serve as a partner of choice for independent physician groups and health insurance plans and to provide patient-centered services in clinically appropriate settings. The partnership includes plans to bring total joint replacement surgeries to outpatient surgery centers across Middle Tennessee to improve access to quality care. Officials said the collaboration allows for enhanced care coordination between the large orthopaedic surgery group, health system and state's largest commercial health insurance carrier.
"We have collaborated with Saint Thomas Health on a number of initiatives over the past several years, and we are excited about this new endeavor, which brings options for high-quality and cost-effective joint replacement care closer to where our members live and work," said Marc Barclay, vice president of provider network contracting for BlueCross.
As an extension of this partnership, Saint Thomas Joint Replacement Institute (STJRI) is expanding from its current hospital-based locations at Saint Thomas Midtown, Saint Thomas West and Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospitals to ambulatory surgery centers across the region, working with BCBST leadership to identify the areas of greatest need across Middle Tennessee. Each patient's qualification for total joint replacement surgery in the outpatient setting will be assessed based on medical selection criteria as defined by the program.
"The distinctive program continues Saint Thomas Health's efforts to serve as an innovative, early adopter bringing best practices in the country to Middle Tennessee communities, with a disciplined focus on convenient access, quality and affordability," said Fahad Tahir, president and CEO of Saint Thomas Midtown and West Hospitals.
The agreement will include shared strategy and clinical integration, providing opportunities for sharing patient data between the three parties for seamless care coordination and implementation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Once fully implemented, the expanded program is anticipated to provide patients with a more cost-effective option of total joint replacement surgery in suburban and community settings throughout the region.
Dr. Dan Phillips
"Our relationship will enhance access to affordable healthcare for those we serve in communities across Middle Tennessee," said Gordon Ferguson, president and CEO of Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and president of Saint Thomas Regional Hospitals.
"As orthopedic leaders in Middle Tennessee, TOA physicians consistently strive to provide the highest quality care to our patients. We view this collaborative effort with BlueCross and Saint Thomas Health as an innovative approach to continue that quality of care in a cost-effective, convenient and safe manner that best serves our patients throughout our service area," said orthopaedic surgeon and TOA Board President Dan Phillips, MD.