Southwestern Health Resources evolves, joins ACO to offer next generation of coordinated, quality care

Senior leadership of Southwestern Health Resources includes (left to right) Dr. John Warner, Marinan Williams, Dr. Mack Mitchell, and Dr. Dan Varga (not shown).

Southwestern Health Resources – the integrated health care network formed in 2015 by Texas Health Resources and UT Southwestern – continues to build on more than 50 years of collaboration between the two institutions. From preventive care to the most advanced interventions, the partnership blends the strengths of both entities to better serve North Texas residents.

One of the highlights for the partnership in 2017 was the selection of the UT Southwestern/Southwestern Health Resources Accountable Care Network by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to participate in its Next Generation Accountable Care Organization (ACO) program, which aims to move away from a health care system that rewards the quantity of services to one that rewards the quality of health outcomes. This new model is designed for experienced ACO health care providers with a successful record of coordinating care while improving quality and efficiency. There are more than 600 ACOs in the U.S., but only 45 currently participate in the Next Generation (NextGen) program.

The goal of the Next Generation model is to test whether these incentives and tools to support better patient engagement and care management can improve health outcomes and lower expenditures for “Original Medicare” fee-for-service beneficiaries.

“Successful Medicare ACOs are on the cutting edge of health care reform,” said Danny Irland, Chief Financial Officer of the Accountable Care Network and Vice President for Market and Payer Relations, Southwestern Health Resources. “Networks like Southwestern Health are about creating efficiencies and quality enhancements that ultimately improve outcomes and help control costs.”

The UT Southwestern/Southwestern Health Resources Accountable Care Network ACO is part of a national initiative to reduce costs by coordinating and delivering better health care for Medicare patients. The ACO was among the country’s top-performing programs launched since 2014, according to CMS. Based on nearly $30 million in savings in 2015 alone, the accountable care network ranked eighth in the country overall and second in the state.

The UT Southwestern Family Medicine Residency Program and clinical practice at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas opened in June, a result of the Southwestern Health Resources partnership.

“We believe that our success has come from our clinically integrated program that draws in both physicians and patients and includes the ability to coordinate and manage care inside the high-performing network that is Southwestern Health Resources,” said Dr. John Warner, Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of UT Southwestern University Hospitals and Senior Executive Officer for Southwestern Health Resources Joint Operating Company.

“We continue to be very proud of our successes in achieving a reduction in the cost of care while delivering better quality and outcomes. Ultimately, these results demonstrate how Southwestern Health Resources will benefit patients, health care providers, and the general public,” added Dr. Warner, who holds the Jim and Norma Smith Distinguished Chair for Interventional Cardiology and the Nancy and Jeremy Halbreich, Susan and Theodore Strauss Professorship in Cardiology.

Southwestern Health Resources is comprised of a physician network, a 31-facility hospital network, and a population health services company that collectively provide higher value and easier access to all levels of care, from primary care to emerging therapies using the latest scientific discoveries. The network serves more than 7 million people across 16 counties in North Texas.

“We’ve proved that with the right analytics, data sharing through integrated electronic health records, the establishment of population health services, and the hiring of high-performing, talented physicians, we can address many of the issues facing the health care system,” said Suresh Gunasekaran, Vice President for Health System Operations and Senior Executive Officer of the SWHR Population Health Services Company.

Another milestone for the Southwestern Health Resources partnership last year came with the June opening of the UT Southwestern Family Medicine Residency Program and clinical practice at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. This marked an expansion of UT Southwestern’s geographic footprint in North Texas.

The nearly 10,000-square-foot clinic provides residents of the North Dallas community improved access to high-quality primary care physicians and health resources. The new Southwestern Health Resources residency track also provides exciting new opportunities for residents and physician faculty: Residents will be able to rotate through a variety of areas, from obstetrics to surgery, while both groups will be able to participate in training programs that embrace population health.

This year, Southwestern Health Resources Population Health Services will continue advancing strategies to empower the performance of the SWHR Physician Network and the SWHR Hospital Network. This includes enhancing care coordination and the data available to support clinical decisions, which are the core of reducing the total cost of care, improving quality, and achieving better overall value.