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New report: Allina Health, HealthPartners partnership improves care, lowers cost in northwest metro

MINNEAPOLIS 10/31/2017

An analysis of the Northwest Metro Alliance shows that health care costs in Anoka and southern Sherburne counties are rising at a slower pace compared to the Twin Cities’ metro average. Lower costs are the result of care improvements, such as reducing hospital readmissions, increasing access to outpatient mental health care and increased use of generic medications.

The Northwest Metro Alliance is an accountable care organization (ACO) partnership between Allina Health and HealthPartners. It serves a community of about 600,000 people who receive care at Allina Health and HealthPartners clinics and Mercy Hospital.

An executive summary of the first seven years shows that costs rose on average by less than three percent per year. That compares to a more than eight percent increase in the year before the partnership began. 

"Allina and HealthPartners recognized that our patients, members and the community needed access to quality care that is more affordable.” said Andrea Walsh, HealthPartners President and CEO. “Through our partnership we have expanded access to mental health services, reduced hospital readmissions and lowered health care costs." 

Preventable readmissions fell by more than 25 percent, avoiding an average of $11,200 to $13,000 per readmission.

“The Northwest Metro Alliance is an extraordinary care model because we are competitors and are collaborating to do what is best for patients. The results show that our focus on the triple aim of cost, quality and experience is a great approach for improving care and affordability for all of us,” said Penny Wheeler, MD, Allina Health President and CEO.

Results are based on claims and clinical data of more than 47,000 Allina Health and HealthPartners patients who have HealthPartners or Medicaid insurance, but the models of care in the Alliance benefit all patients.

The number of patients the Alliance serves doubled in 2016 to 600,000. This is the result of the realignment of Unity Hospital in Fridley into what is now a second campus of Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids. The campuses are about eight miles apart.

More details are included in this executive summary.