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Innovation through partnerships

A fundamental belief underpinning Highmark Health's transformation journey is that no one can solve the health care industry's challenges alone.

A fundamental belief underpinning Highmark Health's transformation journey is that no one can solve the health care industry's challenges alone. We also believe that building a value-based model focused on high-quality outcomes and an exceptional patient experience in cost-efficient settings won't be achieved by acquiring medical facilities, but by leveraging best-in-class research and techniques through strategic alliances with industry-leading organizations that share our values and vision.

In 2017, we accelerated action on this philosophy by announcing several groundbreaking alliances/collaborations/ventures that will increase access to high-quality, affordable health care for our health plan members and the residents in our core markets.

In June, we announced plans to invest more than $200 million over the next two years to further enhance access to leading-edge oncology services, including construction of a state-of-the-art academic cancer institute facility on the Allegheny General Hospital campus and additional community-based cancer treatment centers across western Pennsylvania. Just as importantly, there was an expansion of Allegheny Health Network's relationship with the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine. In addition to expanding access to clinical trials, the new agreement established Johns Hopkins Medicine as a Preferred Referral Partner for Highmark Health Plan members with rare and complex adult and pediatric cancers.

"Every investment that Allegheny Health Network makes is based on our commitment to always doing what’s right for patients and what’s right for the communities we serve. We believe keeping care local whenever appropriate leads to the best possible experience and outcomes for patients, while also reducing the costs of care."

In October, Allegheny Health Network (AHN) became one of the first health systems east of the Mississippi to incorporate the Emerus neighborhood hospital concept into its care delivery model. A true joint venture, AHN and Emerus will share in the cost of constructing four AHN neighborhood hospitals in western Pennsylvania. Emerus will manage the facilities, which will be staffed by board-certified physicians, nurses, and other experienced health care professionals aligned around a proven, high-quality, patient-centered care model. For four consecutive years, Emerus has received the prestigious Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award, which recognizes health care organizations that achieve the top 95th percentile or above for exceptional patient experience. Through this joint venture, AHN will be able to quickly and cost-effectively address gaps in health care access where its patients, and Highmark members, reside while further strengthening the health system's relationship with independent hospitals in communities they jointly serve.

Similar to rapid change in the western Pennsylvania health care market, central Pennsylvania has experienced provider mergers and consolidations that put local community members at risk of losing access to affordable, high-quality care. To ensure that these communities continued to have this access, Penn State Health and Highmark Health announced a strategic partnership marked by a $1 billion collective investment in developing a high-value, community-based care network supported by the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey. Focused on improving access, quality, and affordability of health care for populations across central Pennsylvania, while creating new opportunities for medical education and research, the operating model will reward health care providers for the quality of care they provide and not for volume of services, as part of a quality strategy to reform how health care is delivered and financed. Benefits for patients and others, including Highmark members, include advanced care models to help effectively manage chronic conditions, enhance health and wellness, and deliver a lower total cost of care for patients and the community. Additionally, development of a value-based community care network, including new facilities, will ensure that patients are in close proximity to needed primary care, specialty care, and appropriate acute care hospital settings.