Boston-based Partners HealthCare and data warehousing/analytics vendorHealth Catalyst have announced a $30 million population health management initiative to accelerate adoption of best practices nationally to improve patient care and lower costs.

A new Partners HealthCare Center for Population Health established at Massachusetts General Hospital will train Partners HealthCare and Health Catalyst clinical/administrative teams in care management and population health best practices, with the goal of disseminating that knowledge to client providers around the country.

“The center will help us coalesce a set of activities that have been going on here since 2006 around care coordination and bending the cost curve,” including “programmatic services delivered to patients and clinicians that are addressing some of the shortcomings in the fee-for-service delivery system,” says Timothy Ferris, M.D., senior vice president of population health management for Partners HealthCare, who will lead the new center.

According to Ferris, the center will build on an existing knowledge base that enabled Partners HealthCare to save almost $40 million from 2012 to 2014 as a Pioneer accountable care organization. Partners shared in $20.4 million of the savings and the federal government shared the other $18.8 million.

“Healthcare is complicated,” he says. “A lot of people look for a silver bullet that will bend the cost curve and the fact is that there is not one thing that will do that. Costs in healthcare are high because of a whole set of deficiencies in the way we deliver care in a fee-for-service system. Your programs have to be both broad and deep, touching all the different aspects of care delivery and have got to be adopted throughout an entire system.”

Under their agreement, Health Catalyst is licensing technology, content and analytics that Partners HealthCare, the Massachusetts General Physician Organization and the Brigham and Women’s Physician Organization developed as part of its care management and population health management programs and intends to commercialize these innovations.

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Ferris characterizes the strategic collaboration as “broadening and deepening” the relationship between the two organizations. Under the latest agreement, he says Partners HealthCare is increasing its equity ownership stake in Health Catalyst, after first investing in the vendor in 2013, but he could not disclose financial details.

“We’re going to make more extensive use of analytic services from Health Catalyst and they’re going to partner with us in expanding the scope of services that they offer to their clients and partners,” Ferris adds. 

Towards that end, Partners HealthCare has signed an expanded enterprise-wide technology subscription agreement, giving it access to Health Catalyst’s full suite of solutions. A portion of the vendor’s revenue from the subscription will be tied to the attainment of measureable improvements in Partners HealthCare’s clinical and financial performance.

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