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Emory, Kaiser Permanente Join Forces to Leverage Big Data, Population Health


How they plan to improve pop health, care, and research.

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A new partnership between two major healthcare systems in Georgia could provide a large-scale case study of the power of population health management and translational medicine. Emory Healthcare, part of Atlanta-based Emory University, announced a deal earlier this month to collaborate with Kaiser Permanente, the California-based health system known for its vertically integrated approach to care.

Under the deal, two of Emory’s Atlanta hospitals—Emory University Hospital Midtown and Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital—will become the primary hospitals for Kaiser Permanente’s patients and physicians in the area. The organizations will also work together to improve community-level healthcare and boost efficiencies. Further, Kaiser Permanente will fund expansions of the two Emory hospitals to accommodate the new patients.

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The deal positions Kaiser and Emory to take advantage of the latest innovations in population health management and data analytics, they said.

S. Patrick Hammond, MHA, CEO of Emory Healthcare Network, told Healthcare Analytics News™ that population health will play an “extremely important role” in the partnership.

“We not only will be able to learn from an organization that has been doing population management for well over 70 years, but Emory Healthcare will now have the critical volume level, with our combined patient volume and the membership that Kaiser Permanente will bring into the Emory Healthcare system, to implement some of the population-management initiatives we have wanted to put into practice,” he said.

The health systems will work together on capacity planning, physician staffing, and technology.

Kaiser Permanente patients will see their physicians at the two hospitals and receive care coordination services from Kaiser Permanente patient managers, with help from Emory staff.

In addition to population health management, the deal also creates valuable research links, giving clinicians and scientists access to a massive trove of healthcare data, and forges relationships that will make it easier to translate new research from the lab to the clinic.

“This is an area that both organizations are extremely excited about and is another visible example of the alignment of the two organizations’ missions,” Hammond said, “as both have significant research missions, and both organizations believe the opportunity to collaborate on joint research initiatives is endless.”

One area where Emory’s research is already paying off is interoperability. Emory has developed its own health information exchange platform (HIE) to allow integration of data across different electronic medical record (EMR) systems. That will be a valuable tool in allowing Emory and Kaiser Permanente to work together.

“Emory uses a Cerner EMR platform, while Kaiser Permanente uses an Epic EMR platform,” Hammond said. “Emory was one of the first organizations in the country, through its HIE, to connect a Cerner EMR with an Epic EMR platform.”

The effort is expected to go live by October. While Emory will become the main healthcare venue for Kaiser Permanente patients, Kaiser Permanente will still maintain selected affiliations with other healthcare providers, including labor and delivery services, which will continue to be provided by Atlanta’s Northside Hospital. The deal also won’t affect Emory patients on different health plans; Emory will continue its existing relationships and services with other insurers.

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