State News

WakeMed, two other NC hospital chains partner to cut costs

Posted September 17, 2014 1:18 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2014 3:25 p.m. EDT

— The pressure for hospitals to cut costs is pushing three regional hospital chains operating hundreds of locations across North Carolina to combine purchasing and standardize some medical practices.

Vidant Health in Greenville, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem and WakeMed Health & Hospitals in Raleigh said Wednesday they are forming a new company to manage the benefits of working together while maintaining their independence.

Wake Med Chief Executive Donald Gintzig said the unnamed company would use its size to force discounts on purchases of hospital equipment and other supplies and standardize training and best medical practices. It may combine billing and other back-office operations in the future.

Gintzig says the North Carolina idea is patterned on similar combinations formed in the past year in South Carolina and New England.

WakeMed doesn't expect any layoffs or job reductions as a result of merging services, spokeswoman Kristin Kelly said.

Officials said the combination will support shifts in the health care industry, including the development of accountable care organizations, provider-led groups that coordinate delivery of care to Medicaid patients and others. The new company will assist in meeting the challenges posed by declining Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and technological changes while creating a platform for innovation and enhanced clinical care for patients, they said.