Highland Healthcare Associates IPA and New England Quality Care Alliance announce new affiliation

September 11, 2009

Partnership of Winchester Hospital and Tufts Medical Center doctor groups will help enhance quality and efficiency of patient care

WINCHESTER (September 11, 2009) – Highland Healthcare Associates IPA, the physicians’ organization of Winchester Hospital, and the New England Quality Care Alliance, the physicians’ organization of Tufts Medical Center, today announced a new partnership aimed at enhancing the quality and efficiency of patient care and positioning both organizations for the changing landscape of healthcare reform.
The affiliation between the Highland IPA and NEQCA will bring nearly 1,200 physicians together in a joint mission to establish the groundwork and identify best practices for creating an “Accountable Care Organization” (ACO). Providers are anticipating new models under which they will assume more responsibility for the cost of care. And the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – as one of its healthcare reform initiatives – has recommended the creation of ACOs to manage global payments for patient care. An ACO is a collaboration of providers across a spectrum of care that, together, are better positioned to optimize the delivery of care and manage health budgets than smaller, less integrated provider organizations are able to do on their own.
“Our physicians want to be leaders in the creation of new provider models that will ensure the highest quality and efficiency of patient care, in keeping with state and federal health reform initiatives,” said Dr. Michele Crage, President of the Highland Healthcare Associates IPA. “This affiliation with NEQCA – and our creation of an ACO – shows that both organizations are committed to effective reform.”
Dr. Jeffrey Lasker, CEO of the New England Quality Care Alliance, said the affiliation with the Highland IPA could become a model for how other providers can assume the responsibility of managing a health budget while at the same time improving quality and outcomes of care.
“I think NEQCA and the Highland IPA will learn from each other. That’s always an important outcome from a good collaboration,” Lasker said. “Like NEQCA, the Highland IPA has an established track record in developing clinical guidelines, medical management programs and other methods for improving performance. This is a great fit.”
Both NEQCA and the Highland IPA were named in 2008 to Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare’s Honor Roll for both adult and pediatric care.
The Highland Healthcare Associates IPA is an organization of 355 physicians affiliated with Winchester Hospital, including 106 primary care physicians and 249 specialists representing a wide range of medical and surgical specialties. The Highland IPA is a clinically integrated physician organization, with emphasis on the development, implementation, and measurement of physician compliance with evidence-based clinical guidelines.
The New England Quality Care Alliance represents more than 842 community and hospital physicians in Eastern Massachusetts, and is affiliated with Tufts Medical Center. The NEQCA network offers a competitive platform for physicians in the region aimed at delivering and improving the quality of care for patients with an emphasis on using technology as the foundation.
“This partnership is about bringing together two high-quality provider groups to find the best ways for delivering care in a marketplace that demands efficiency and accountability,” said Tufts Medical Center President and CEO Ellen Zane. “And for Tufts Medical Center, it’s a natural evolution of the strong clinical relationship we already have with Winchester Hospital and the Highland IPA physicians.”
“Through the years, Winchester Hospital and Tufts Medical Center have collaborated in a number of clinical areas including intensivist coverage for critical care patients, a surgical residency program and cardiology,” said Winchester Hospital President and CEO Dale Lodge. “Given that healthcare reform is a top public policy priority nationwide, this affiliation will ensure that both organizations and their respective physicians are best prepared to deliver quality care to our patients and the communities we serve.”

About Tufts Medical Center

Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 451-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Tufts Children's Hospital. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Children's Hospital is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. For more information, please visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org

About Winchester Hospital

Winchester Hospital is the first community hospital in Massachusetts to earn Magnet recognition, the American Nurses Association’s highest honor for nursing excellence. As the northwest suburban Boston area’s leading provider of comprehensive health care services, the 229-bed facility provides care in general, bariatric and vascular surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, cardiology, pulmonary medicine, oncology, gastroenterology, rehabilitation, radiation oncology, pain management, obstetrics/gynecology and a Level IIB Special Care Nursery. Winchester Hospital has clinical affiliations with several nationally recognized hospitals in the region, including Tufts Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Boston and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. To learn more, visit www.winchesterhospital.org.

Media Contacts:

John Looney                                                      
Winchester Hospital
Anne O’Rourke
O'Neill and Associates