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Tufts Medical Center, Lowell General Hospital announce formation of new health care system

Alternative model to emphasize unmatched collaboration and provider autonomy to manage and improve health

BOSTON, April 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General Hospital today announced plans to form a new health system. Designed as an alternative model, this new system will foster collaboration between and among community-based and academic medical providers to effectively identify patient needs and manage the health of the communities they serve.

The organizations will align with a new parent company, led by Normand Deschene as Chief Executive Officer and Ellen Zane as Chairperson. Tufts MC, Lowell General and their physician groups will maintain local governance but will partner to create the scale needed to capitalize on population data management, efficiencies of group purchasing and the development of innovative services while assuring autonomy. The organizations will have equal representation on the parent company board.

"We believe in keeping physicians close to patients and removing the barriers that stand in the way of patients receiving care at the right time in the most appropriate setting, conveniently and affordably," said Deschene, CEO of Lowell General Hospital. "This partnership with Tufts Medical Center will do just that. The new system will allow us to build and strengthen connections, remove obstacles and ultimately ensure that patients are navigating a far less complex healthcare experience."

The new system will unite organizations who share a demonstrated high quality, lower-cost approach to health care services and an established set of population health management practices and programs – a crucial aspect of the Affordable Care Act environment.

"Our partnership will be the first of its kind in Massachusetts," said Zane, Vice Chair of the Tufts MC Board of Trustees. "This system is not being formed by one entity taking over another, with the academic medical center as the hub of the universe.  What we are creating is a 'round table,' if you will, predicated on our commitment to managing the health and well-being of the communities we serve. This system we are forming with Lowell General Hospital is powerful both on its own, and as an alternative for other community providers and regional physician groups who share our vision and values."

Lowell General Hospital and Tufts Medical Center have been recognized repeatedly in reports from the Attorney General's Office and the Center for Health Information and Analysis for their ability to deliver high quality care with a lower cost structure, just the formula that legislators, business leaders and patients have been demanding to make care better and more affordable in Massachusetts.

"We know from experience that strong hospitals and physician groups like ours seek the scale necessary to leverage collaborative technologies and data sharing that allow us to improve access to affordable, high quality health care for the communities we serve," said Deschene. "We believe the market is hungry for this type of value-driven system."

Tufts Medical Center CEO Michael Wagner, MD, said, "Lowell General is a perfect teammate, one of the strongest and most well-respected community hospital systems in Massachusetts. By joining together, we can accelerate the development of services and technologies to help patients across the spectrum from the healthy to the chronically ill to the critically ill.  As a CEO and a physician, I find the benefits offered by this system unmatched and extremely attractive."

"We have seen the success of working with Tufts Medical Center and its commitment to partnering with community hospitals firsthand through our successful pediatric and critical care affiliations," said Joseph White, President of Lowell General Hospital. "Ultimately, this partnership will help us continue to deliver on our promise of complete connected care to members of our community – no matter where they access that care. Tufts Medical Center will bring its commitment to research, teaching and specialty care innovation to this partnership, and will help us to increase the breadth and scope of the care we provide in the community."

The new system will leverage population health data and services already available through the Lowell General Hospital and New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA), a network of 1,800 physicians affiliated with Tufts Medical Center.  This will support a cost-efficient and optimally effective approach to population health management, a method by which hospitals, doctors and other health care providers work together to improve patients' health rather than simply treat episodes of disease. It is a critical component of health care reform. NEQCA and Lowell General Hospital have had significant success and are highly regarded for their innovations in this area.

"Physicians and hospitals are going to find this unique system attractive in that it provides a level of local control and collaboration between academic and community medicine that currently does not exist," said Jeffrey Lasker, MD, President and CEO of NEQCA.  "This new model has been designed to support the relationship between the doctor and patient and will allow us the opportunity to build on our demonstrated success in ensuring healthier outcomes for patients and limiting health care costs."

About Tufts Medical Center
Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center is affiliated with the New England Quality Care Alliance, a network of nearly 1,800 physicians throughout Eastern Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org 

About Lowell General Hospital
Lowell General Hospital is an independent, not-for-profit, community hospital serving the Greater Lowell area and surrounding communities. With two primary campuses located in Lowell, Massachusetts, the hospital offers the latest state-of-the-art technology and a full range of medical and surgical services for patients, from newborns to seniors.

About New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA)
New England Quality Care Alliance is a partnership of community and academic physicians dedicated to providing comprehensive, innovative, high-quality and affordable health care that brings value to their patients and the community.  NEQCA is comprised of almost 500 primary care physicians and pediatricians along with more than 1,300 specialists, located in practices across Eastern Massachusetts, from the Merrimack Valley to Cape Cod.  NEQCA physicians are organized into groups called Local Care Organizations (LCOs), and are on staff at community hospitals throughout Eastern Massachusetts.  The NEQCA network is integrated with Tufts Medical Center, the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine and the Floating Hospital for Children, the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine.  For more information, please visit: www.neqca.org

SOURCE Tufts Medical Center

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