The University of Texas System activates new North Texas medical benefit option in partnership with Southwestern Health Resources

Based on Accountable Care Organization Model Providing Access to High-Quality Care

DALLAS – Nov. 15, 2018 – The University of Texas System collaborated with Southwestern Health Resources to launch a new medical plan for its employees and retirees in North Texas – including those of UT Southwestern Medical Center, UT Arlington, and UT Dallas. This is the first time the UT System, which provides health care coverage for more than 200,000 individuals throughout the state, has offered a program based on an accountable care organization (ACO) model of care.

Named UT CONNECT, this 2018-2019 medical benefit option became effective in September. More than 4,000 people are enrolled.

Southwestern Health Resources was established in 2016 by UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources. More than 500,000 North Texans receive access to care through its network, which includes over 4,000 physicians and caregivers. The ACO provides a framework for physicians to drive changes in the health care system, focused on improving quality, reducing costs, and optimizing results for patients.

“As one of the largest employers in the state of Texas, our organization is consistently challenged to provide outstanding medical benefits, while determining new ways to rein in health care costs. By partnering with Southwestern Health Resources to develop UT CONNECT, we are leading an exciting strategy to accomplish both,” said Laura Chambers, Executive Director of Office of Employee Benefits, the University of Texas System.

The foundation of this program is for members to participate in a medical home, with primary care physicians managing overall health care needs. This is key to the Southwestern Health Resources ACO’s ability to advance a system of care, from promoting preventive services to navigating specialty care for complex health issues.

“We also know employees are looking for value. Most plans reduce benefit levels to achieve savings. That was not the case with UT CONNECT. We were able to offer the same core benefits, along with services to help employees and their families navigate the health care system better – while providing opportunities to save on out-of-pocket expenses, such as copays and deductibles,” added Chambers.

“By co-creating this alternative with the UT System, we are showcasing our capabilities to deliver care that’s better coordinated and designed to advance quality. It’s also personal. We are now serving our colleagues, who are our co-workers and family members through UT CONNECT,” said Marinan Williams, Senior Executive Officer, Market Relations, Southwestern Health Resources.

Physician-driven strategies are the foundation of Southwestern Health Resources’ achievements. As an example, an advanced shared health information exchange provides access across the provider network to data and analytics from millions of patient records. This includes previous conditions, treatments, prescriptions, care management, and other medical information. With this information, physicians have increased opportunities to reduce inefficiencies, and ultimately, improve clinical results for patients. 

An ACO, like Southwestern Health Resources, is a healthcare collaboration that ties payments to quality measures and the cost of care. ACOs are formed by a group of providers that are committed to being accountable to patients and payers for the quality, appropriateness and efficiency of healthcare services that are delivered. ACOs involve doctors, hospitals, health plans, post-acute care facilities and other providers working together to make sure patients receive the right care at the right time and at the right cost.

About Southwestern Health Resources

Southwestern Health Resources is the clinically integrated network formed in 2016 by Texas Health Resources and UT Southwestern Medical Center to better serve North Texas residents. It blends the strengths of one of the nation’s preeminent academic medical centers and one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States. The Southwestern Health network consists of 30 hospital locations, as well as an expansive network of more than 4,000 physicians and caregivers to provide higher value and easier access to all levels of care, from primary prevention to advanced specialized care. The network serves more than 7 million people across 16 counties in North Texas.