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Wellmark and Mercy Medical Center - Des Moines enter into Accountable Care Organization

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

DES MOINES, IA (May 8, 2012) – Today, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa officially announced a collaboration with Mercy Medical Center - Des Moines to create an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). The new ACO will focus on coordinating patient care to improve quality, provide greater value and slow increases in health care costs.  

“Mercy is excited to be working with Wellmark in this ACO collaboration,” said David Vellinga, President & CEO of Mercy. “Both organizations have been recognized nationally for their innovations in better managing care and promoting wellness and healthy lifestyles. We see it as a natural extension of our existing efforts, and our longstanding relationship with each other, to be working together in this important effort.”

In an ACO, providers assume responsibility for managing a population of patients, both who are healthy and those who are in need of care, no matter where in the system the patients receive care. Wellmark offers the providers financial rewards if they reach established quality goals and slow the rate in increase in health care spend in caring for these patients. At the same time, providers will not earn their financial incentive if their quality declines or their costs run higher than expected.

John Forsyth, Wellmark chairman and CEO said, “Health care is complex and this ACO was designed to keep healthy people well and improve outcomes for our members when they need care. We are proud to work with Mercy Medical Center to improve the health care experience and to help slow the rate of cost increases.”

The ACO will enhance Wellmark members’ care in a variety of ways:

  • Providers encouraging their patients to take an active role in their health care.

  • Continued freedom to see the doctors of their choice.

  • Seamless customer experience when setting up an appointment, seeing multiple doctors, and receiving follow up care.

  • A reduction of unnecessary and redundant care and services.

“Mercy and Wellmark’s ACO collaboration will help Mercy physicians offer new services such as Health Coaches, planned clinical visits, and extra help at the time of hospital discharge,” said Dave Swieskowski, M.D., senior vice president and chief accountable care officer, Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines. “By working closely together, Mercy and Wellmark can achieve better patient outcomes that will reduce health care costs and ultimately offer patients an improved quality of life.”


About Wellmark

Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com ) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.


About Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines

Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines is an 802-bed not-for-profit Catholic comprehensive health care system situated on three hospital campuses and in more than 40 other clinical facilities in Central Iowa. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1893, Mercy is one of the largest employers in the state, with nearly 6,900 employees and a medical staff of nearly 1,000 physicians and 200 allied health professionals. Mercy – Des Moines sees the largest numbers of inpatients and has the busiest Emergency Department of any hospital in Iowa.  Patients are cared for at Mercy’s hospitals, clinics, nursing home, hospice, and other clinical services nearly 2 million times each year.

Mercy Medical Center–Des Moines is part of Mercy Health Network, a statewide system of 40 owned and contract-managed hospitals, both private and public.  Mercy Health Network has two corporate sponsors, Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a national not-for-profit health organization with headquarters in Englewood, Colo., and Trinity Health, Novi, Mich., also a national not-for-profit health care system.  For more information, visit www.mercydesmoines.org.

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