University Hospitals, three other regional giants form statewide network

UH Chief Executive Tom Zenty
UH Chief Executive Tom Zenty

The four Health systems each are regional leaders: University Hospitals in Cleveland, Summa Health System in Akron, Mount Carmel Health System in Columbus, and Catholic Health Partners in Cincinnati. UH's Chief Executive Tom Zenty explains that together they will create a powerful statewide network through a new organization they're calling Health Innovations Ohio.

"About one out of every four Ohioans who are hospitalized on an annual basis are admitted to one of our hospitals and together we'll have 45 hospitals on a statewide basis. So that gives us an enormous footprint," Zenty says.

That statewide footprint will make it easier for each of the health systems to respond to changes in government payments for patients enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and - possibly - the statewide exchanges that are required under the Affordable Care Act, he says.

"Well the future of where health care is heading at the moment is not abundantly clear, and so we just want to be prepared for what we see coming on the horizon in terms of health care reform and be able to be responsive early, Zenty says.

Jim Reber, who is the chief executive of the new organization, says HIO enables the four systems to work together to test new ways of providing care and managing patients while also saving money.

"So let's say we all want to all join, say, an educational initiative together, we would run that through our books and divide the cost four ways," Reber says.

The creation of HIO is the latest in a series of deals for University Hospitals. The health system also announced this summer that it is in negotiations to bring Parma Community General Hospital and Elyria's EMH Healthcare into its network.

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