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Maine’s Three Largest Healthcare Systems Announce Collaborative Agreement

At a news conferences in Portland, Waterville, and Brewer on March 1, 2007, the leaders of Maine’s three largest healthcare delivery systems: Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS), MaineGeneral Health (MGH), and MaineHealth  (MH) announced a newly reached agreement. This Memorandum of Understanding sets broad guidelines regarding how the systems will collaborate in an increasingly challenged healthcare environment. This collaboration will work toward ensuring future statewide access to critical services, primary care services, and preventive services. It also recognizes that increasing quality and decreasing cost can only be accomplished by working together where possible, for the benefit of all the people of Maine.

This agreement marks the first time that these systems -that together span the entire state - have joined forces. In the next twelve months they already have agreed to explore ways to:

  • Create seamless transfer of patient information between tertiary and community providers,
  • Coordinate population health assessments and prevention strategies to address the epidemics of chronic disease, obesity, and substance abuse in Maine, and
  • Comprehensively aggregate the purchasing power of the three organizations to further reduce the cost of supplies and equipment.

The agreement seeks to advance the goals and objectives of Maine’s State Health Plan, and to preserve access to critical, primary, and preventive services. Maine hospitals are facing their highest ever demand for free care. Bad debt is at an all time high, and proposed cuts in federal Medicare payments could pose additional financial hardships.  This comes at a time when a critical shortage of providers makes recruiting physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers more difficult, while patients and providers alike expect the latest treatments and medications, and up-to-date techniques and technology.

MaineGeneral Health and MaineHealth have a long tradition of collaboration. While MGH is an independent nonprofit organization it has been an affiliate of the MH system since 1997. “Due to our unique geographic service area equidistant from Bangor and Portland it only makes sense to take the next step of working with EMHS, the second
largest tertiary provider in Maine” stated Scott Bullock CEO of MGH. “Our patients and our doctors are concerned with only one thing, where to get the best healthcare for their medical needs. We need to forge working relationships to make that easier and more cost effective.”

Bringing a fresh perspective and innovative solutions to these problems from other states, EMHS president and CEO Michelle Hood says anytime healthcare providers get together to study issues, look for solutions to problems, and share ideas and resources it benefits the people we serve. “Advances in medicine and technology have combined to offer more people more treatment options and new hope. However, Maine is a state of
finite resources so it is more important than ever that healthcare providers work together to ensure that quality care and continuity of care is provided throughout the state,” Hood stated.

MaineHealth president Bill Caron expressed his delight with the opportunity to link the north and the south to create a united healthcare initiative for Maine bound together by the common values of individual and institutional responsibility, universal access, and commitment to the advancement of quality and resource stewardship. “Our system is founded on the premise of collaboration,” Caron says, “even with those with whom we might compete. Some issues, like the ones covered by this agreement, transcend competition and require us to work together for the greater good.”

The CEOs also announced the appointment of three working groups:

  • Community Health - Chaired by Deborah Deatrick, Vice President, Community Health, MaineHealth
  • Health InfoNet and Clinical Infomatics –Chaired by Eric Hartz, MD Chief Medical Information Officer, Eastern Maine Medical Center
  • Supply Chain – Chaired by Chuck Hays, Chief Operating Officer,
    MaineGeneral Health

The three CEOs expressed their appreciation for having the privilege to bring their organizations together in new ways to tackle the healthcare for all of Maine. Recommendations from the working groups are scheduled to be issued by the end of the year.

For more information, please contact:

  • Abby Greenfield at MaineHealth - (207) 662-2196
  • Gail Evans at MaineGeneral Health - (207) 626-1301
  • Suzanne Spruce at EMHS - (207) 973-5758

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