• WisBusiness

Friday, September 5, 2014

MaryBeth Matzek: Health partnership looks to lower costs for consumers


By MaryBeth Matzek
When six healthcare organizations announced a new partnership last month, many consumers wondered how it would affect them. According to Greg Devine, vice president at ThedaCare in Appleton and president and CEO of the partnership – it doesn't have an official name yet – the move should result in lower costs and improved care.

Along with ThedaCare, the other members of the partnership include Aspirus in Wausau, Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, Bellin Heath in Green Bay, Gundersen Health System in La Crosse and UW Heath in Madison. Together, their service area covers about 90 percent of Wisconsin.

The partnership also struck a deal with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield's Blue Priority network to offer insurance through brokers, the federal health insurance marketplace and private health insurance exchanges. The insurance offering is key since that's how most people access their health coverage and Devine hopes it's an attractive offering to employers.

"We all came to this because we wanted to provide better care to our patients," Devine says. "We all have similar ways of doing things and want to provide more affordable care to our patients."

Right now, Devine's main role is similar to many start-up executives – he's out building relationships and looking at ways to get the partnership and its members recognized for their achievements. "We want people to realize our accomplishments," he says.

The partners are also getting to know each other better. Some of the partners – such as ThedaCare and Bellin – have already worked together on other projects, but others lack that familiarity.

All of the health care providers use the same medical record system so information can be shared patient by patient, but Devine says the goal is to think bigger.

"We want to look at populations and how we can do a better job of sharing information and how we do things," he says. "It's all about using our collective resources and shared resources so at the end of the day we are providing better value in health care."

The group is open to welcoming other healthcare providers to reach parts of the state not currently covered, Devine says. "We would like to grow, but right now we're focused on getting this off the ground and working more closely together toward a common goal of providing better care at a lower cost," he says.

Start-ups get boost

Gener8tor, a business accelerator based in Milwaukee and Madison, is teaming up with BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation to help start-ups get off the ground.

BrightStar says it will invest $50,000 in each company that comes out of the bi-annual gener8tor accelerator program that meets the non-profit foundation's mission of creating high-quality jobs in Wisconsin. Gener8tor focuses on technology-enabled, rapidly-scalable companies.

Exports boost state economy

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported this week that good exports from Wisconsin supported 126,147 jobs in 2013. The Milwaukee area registered $8.9 billion in goods exports last year.

Key export categories for the state in 2013 included machinery except electrical, computer and electronic products, transportation equipment, food & kindred products and chemicals. The top destination for state exports were Canada, Mexico, China, Japan and Germany.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.

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