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Lifespan, United team up to coordinate health care

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 27, 2013 at 8:21 am •  Published: February 27, 2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Providence-based Lifespan and UnitedHealthcare hope a new partnership announced Wednesday will close gaps in what they call a fragmented health care system — while improving patient health and lowering costs.

Officials said Lifespan is one of only a handful of organizations across the U.S. — and the first in Rhode Island — to participate in UnitedHealthcare's "shared savings" program. The effort emphasizes collaborative care and a payment system based more on how patients are doing than the volume of procedures or tests a doctor or lab performs.

Under a three-year contract that begins in July, it is expected to provide care for about 21,000 people in the state who are enrolled in UnitedHealthcare's employer-sponsored health plans, officials said.

"We think the two partners are uniquely positioned to do some things that are new and innovative," said Dr. Timothy Babineau, president and chief executive officer of Lifespan, whose health system includes Rhode Island Hospital and its Hasbro Children's Hospital, The Miriam Hospital, Newport Hospital and Bradley Hospital. "That's really how we're going to get at this issue of a health care system whose costs are increasing at an unsustainable rate."

Added Stephen Farrell, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of New England: "This gives an opportunity to work together, which is kind of unique. We haven't always been on the same side."

Lifespan, which is affiliated with Brown University's School of Medicine, and UnitedHealthcare call the partnership an "accountable coordinated care organization," a variation on the "accountable care organization" model provided for in President Barack Obama's signature health care overhaul, the Affordable Care Act.

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