Overlake, Evergreen collaboration will help with health care costs

Two heads are better than one. The Eastside’s two major hospitals are doing just that, melding their brains and resources for a collaboration that will help with expensive health care costs.

Earlier this month, Bellevue-based Overlake Medical Center and Kirkland-based EvergreenHealth announced that they are joining together in a limited alliance. The collaboration will focus on three areas where their CEOs believe they can do better together.

The two institutions are not merging, both CEOs stressed. They’ll still compete in many arenas, but are building some bridges.

“We have an interest to bring the highest level of treatment, most sophisticated technology to the Eastside. We’re able to do that more easily together,” Overlake CEO Mike Marsh told the Reporter. “There are things that Overlake does better than Evergreen, and there are things that they do better than Overlake. By sharing processes and approaches, that makes both of us better.”

Overlake and Evergreen will form standardized clinical protocols and out-of-hospital provider quality markers through the new Eastside Health Network. The data and safety best practices each has collected will also be shared as a part of their collaboration.

Not only will that increase citizen’s access to independent medical providers — of which there will now be more than 1,000 — but it will help patients’ pre- and post-operations and bring down insurance costs.

Hospitals have generally not focused on the full scope of a patient’s experience, only the time they’re in the hospital or operating room. But there is clear data that most of the breakdowns in medical care and patient issues happen at the “transition points” pre- and post-op, Marsh said.

“One of our core strength’s at Evergreen is home care. The amount of things we’ll be able to do with monitoring a patient’s status at home will flourish in the next couple of years,” Evergreen CEO Bob Malte said.

Additionally, the two institutions will collaborate on cardiac and neuroscience services.

The two specialties have been a large focus of Overlake’s operations over the last few years. The hospital opened the David and Shelley Hovind Heart and Vascular Center in 2013 and their neuroscience institute in 2015.

Leading up to their partnership discussions, both hospitals found that their doctors were already informally collaborating frequently.

“With neurology, it had a head start because our physicians had already been collaborating. Cardiac was a natural evolution. We both had needs to better serve the community in cardiac care,” Malte said. “Our market here is aging, with more seniors and baby boomers moving through, we’re going to see more need for both fields.”

The pace of change in the cardiac and neuroscience specialties is breathtakingly fast, Marsh added. Combining forces will make it easier for the two entities to bring world-class and often expensive new technology to their patients.

“I’ve been in health care leadership for 30 years, and I don’t think there’s ever been a time where the medical industry has been as transformative as it is today. About three or four years ago, Overlake started performing trans-aortic valve replacements. But the technology has evolved further over that time,” he said.

The partnership team will have their first board meeting on Feb. 24.

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