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PARK NICOLLET, GROUP HEALTH AND MEDCENTERS DISCUSS POSSIBLE JOINT EFFORTS

 PARK NICOLLET, GROUP HEALTH AND MEDCENTERS DISCUSS
 POSSIBLE JOINT EFFORTS
 MINNEAPOLIS, March 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Group Health, Inc., MedCenters Health Plan and Park Nicollet Medical Center are discussing the possibility of a joint venture to current and anticipated requests from area business health care coalitions.
 During the last two weeks the boards of directors for all three parties agreed to begin talks about the merits of establishing a joint effort to successfully pursue opportunities represented by the various coalitions. However, all three organizations stress that all discussions are preliminary and no conclusions or decisions have been reached.
 The coalitions, including the Business Health Care Action Group and the Employer's Buyer Coalition, made up of members from the Employer Association of Minnesota, are seeking to gain higher quality, more cost- effective health care than they could purchase individually. In total, the coalitions represent more than 200,000 people, spread over a broad geographic area.
 "Our response to the coalition is based on our belief in the power of integrated health systems, such as multispecialty group practices, to provide the highest quality at a reasonable cost," said James L. Reinertsen, M.D., Park Nicollet Medical Center president and chief executive officer. "Working together, we build on each other's strengths to provide a truly integrated system of care across many communities. For example, patient access to health care would be improved with a pool of medical specialists from which physicians from either organization could cross-refer."
 The three health care organizations view the business coalitions as a positive development, according to Kirby Erickson, MedCenters executive director. "These coalitions are looking to purchase health care services based on value as well as price," said Erickson. "That's an important shift. These are sophisticated buyers of health care. They are seeking, not just a collection of health care services, but an integrated, managed system of health care that will give them the most for their health care dollar. And, by working together with Group Health, Park Nicollet and our extended provider networks, we are in an excellent position to meet the needs of the large business coalitions."
 George Halvorson, president of Group Health, Inc., sees the cooperative effort by the three organizations as offering greater health care efficiency. "We've all made major commitments to measuring and improving health care outcomes and to continuous quality improvement," Halvorson said. "Together, we have sufficient patient volume to truly apply CQI techniques to health care in this community."
 At the onset, such a cooperative effort allows the organizations to benefit from existing quality improvement efforts. For example, through CQI, Park Nicollet has implemented an improved system in breast lump workups, reducing the "sleepless nights" for women from two weeks to two days. At Group Health, pap smear screening techniques have improved the use of technology that increases the cross section of cells to be studied. MedCenters Health Plan has designed special cross-functional Customer Service Teams that allow customers to get answers to their inquiries an average of 30 percent faster than just one year ago, and have reduced pending claims processing by 60 percent.
 "There are a significant number of business issues to resolve, however, before we can focus on the care components," Halvorson noted. "While these discussions are very preliminary, we are encourageed by the potential a joint relationship offers."
 Group Health, Inc. founded in 1957, is the second largest health maintenance organization in Minnesota, with more than 310,000 members. Group health owns and operates a network of medical centers as well as contracting with independent group practice clinics to provide care to its members. Group Health is a Minnesota-based, consumer governed organization and is self-managed.
 MedCenters Health Plan, founded in 1972, is the third largest health maintenance organization in Minnesota with more than 260,000 members. It is a network model health plan, selectively contracting with clinics and hospitals throughout the area to offer members a choice of high quality care through both general and specialty practice physicians. It is managed by Aetna Health Plans, a wholly owned subsidiary of Aetna Life Insurance Company.
 Park Nicollet Medical Center is one of the largest multispecialty clinics in the United States. More than 340 physicians provide care in 45 specialties and subspecialities at 19 metropolitan locations. Park Nicollet accepts more than 120 types of insurance, including Aetna, MedCenters Health Plan, Prudential, Travelers and many Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, to name a few.
 Park Nicollet Medical Center has entered into an affiliation agreement with Methodist Hospital, a 426-bed acute care hospital employing 2,600 people, which operates outpatient clinics in several western Minneapolis suburbs. This agreement creates a comprehensive, vertically integrated hospital/clinic care system unique in the Twin Cities marketplace.
 -0- 3/5/92
 /CONTACT: Jacqueline Hanson of MedCenters, 612-371-5503; Sara McFee of Group Health, 612-623-8761; or Lisa Graham-Peterson of Park Nicollet, 612-927-3610/ CO: Park Nicollet Medical Center, Group Health, Inc., MedCenters Health
 Plan ST: Minnesota IN: MTC INS SU: JVN


AL -- MN010 -- 5551 03/05/92 15:02 EST
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Date:Mar 5, 1992
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