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Sarah Bush Lincoln has joined The BJC Collaborative, LLC , a partnership among healthcare systems throughout Illinois, Missouri and Eastern Kansas.

 While remaining independent, member and participant organizations collaborate to achieve savings, implement clinical programs and services to improve access to and quality of healthcare for patients, lower healthcare costs and create additional efficiencies that will benefit patients and communities.

BJC HealthCare (St. Louis, Mo.), Memorial Health System (Springfield, Ill.), Saint Luke’s Health System (Kansas City, Mo.) and CoxHealth (Springfield, Mo.) founded the Collaborative in October 2012 to improve the quality and efficiency of health care in the region. Blessing Health System in Quincy, Ill., joined the Collaborative in May 2013 and Southern Illinois Healthcare in Carbondale, Ill., joined in September 2013.  

A significant benefit of the BJC Collaborative is being able to tap into the best practices developed by these organizations to impact Sarah Bush Lincoln patients and its employees. While all of the Collaborative members are members of Voluntary Hospitals of America (VHA) Sarah Bush Lincoln will be able to combine its purchasing power when it needs to replace expensive equipment.

The Collaborative comprises 6,500 hospital beds, nearly 60,000 employees and 7,600 employed and affiliated physicians across their adjacent service areas. Sarah Bush Lincoln has 129 licensed beds, 175 medical staff members and 2,150 employees.

The BJC Collaborative offers Sarah Bush Lincoln the opportunity to participate in multiple existing initiatives, to the benefit of the communities it serves. Those initiatives include:

  • Population Health Management – population health information and assessment, physician recruitment and engagement strategies, including Accountable Care Organizations and medical home development.
  • Clinical and Service Quality – performance improvement, staff development and training, including eLearning, management and leadership development, clinical skills training, clinical decision support, safety event reporting and emergency preparedness.
  • Capital Asset Management – supply chain relationships, facilities design, clinical engineering, technology evaluation, energy conservation and facilities management.
  • Financial Services – capital resource evaluation analysis, treasury options, revenue cycle, business intelligence and actuarial expertise.
  • Information Systems and Technology – meaningful use of health IT, data center management, data warehousing, software applications, hardware configurations and emerging technologies, data security and patient confidentiality.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why has Sarah Bush Lincoln chosen to develop a relationship with other healthcare systems?

The healthcare landscape has been changing rapidly in recent years. In response to those changes, Sarah Bush Lincoln began a careful review of options for relationships with hospitals and health systems. The goal is to strengthen Sarah Bush Lincoln by aligning with other providers of high quality healthcare services in the Midwest and, together, to provide even higher quality health care to the patients in these areas.

2. Why did Sarah Bush Lincoln select the BJC Collaborative, LLC?

Sarah Bush Lincoln established criteria against which to evaluate potential relationships, including: (a) enhancing medical services at Sarah Bush Lincoln (b) improving quality and reducing the costs of such services; (c) retaining local ownership of assets and (d) maintaining local governance control.

Sarah Bush Lincoln's participation in the BJC Collaborative does not involve a change in ownership of Sarah Bush Lincoln assets or governance. Sarah Bush Lincoln remains intact with opportunities to reduce costs and improve care quality as well as clinical and service performance.

The BJC Collaborative also enables Sarah Bush Lincoln to connect to the St. Louis healthcare market, where many of its patients are referred for tertiary and quaternary medical care, and specifically to work more closely with BJC HealthCare. BJC HealthCare includes Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, which are adult and pediatric academic medical centers affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine.

3. Is this the first step toward a merger?

No. Sarah Bush Lincoln has not discussed a merger with the BJC Collaborative members. Instead, the Collaborative signals a commitment to work together under a structure that allows each participant to maintain its unique identity, to preserve its independence, and to serve the healthcare needs of its local communities. At the same time, the participants can derive both the quality of care and financial benefits that come from being part of a larger Collaborative enterprise. The participants will be able to share services, costs and best practices where possible, while remaining independent systems.

4. Will there be leadership changes?

No. Sarah Bush Lincoln will continue to operate independently of the Collaborative with local governance and local leadership.

5. How will Sarah Bush Lincoln employees be affected by this relationship?

Sarah Bush Lincoln anticipates that the work of the Collaborative will be transparent to patients, families and the people who take care of them. Initially, the focus will be to capture opportunities to reduce or share costs in areas such as supplies, energy management, contracted services, equipment purchasing and maintenance and information technology hardware and infrastructure. Sarah Bush Lincoln will participate in leadership roundtables to share best practices in areas such as regulatory compliance and employee professional development. It will work with the Collaborative to find new approaches to improving patient care and service and making Sarah Bush Lincoln facilities even safer places to receive medical care.

6. How will physicians be affected?

Sarah Bush Lincoln looks forward to providing its physicians the opportunity to collaborate in the development of clinical programs and services with their colleagues at BJC HealthCare.

7. How will this affiliation lead to better patient care? Reduced costs?

The participants in the Collaborative, such as BJC HealthCare and Sarah Bush Lincoln, have achieved superior quality scores in a number of clinical service areas. Comparing different approaches and measuring patient-specific outcomes will help Sarah Bush Lincoln determine what works best and how to replicate best practices in its facilities. Collaborative participants have achieved cost savings through expanded opportunities in group purchasing, clinical asset management and shared infrastructure.

8. Are you creating a new, combined group purchasing organization

No. Sarah Bush Lincoln and the other systems in the Collaborative are already members of Voluntary Hospitals of America (VHA.) However, to the extent that the participants can adopt those standards for certain products, supplies and equipment and coordinate the timing of these purchases, there may be additional opportunities for savings.

9. Will you have one Electronic Medical Record (EMR) platform with the other participants in the Collaborative?

Not in the near future. Participants in the Collaborative have made sizeable investments in different software applications. However, over time, it is possible that a common EMR platform will be one of those areas of focus, so the participants may migrate to common solutions for mutual benefit.

10. Can others join the Collaborative?

Yes, the founding members of the BJC Collaborative determine membership opportunities. Sarah Bush Lincoln is pleased with the invitation to participate.

11. Does this mean Sarah Bush Lincoln will not partner with any other healthcare providers in the future?

Sarah Bush Lincoln will always look for appropriate relationships to work with others who share our goal to take excellent care of the patients it serves. It has worked with other organizations in a less formal structure to explore ways to improve patient care and identify cost savings and will likely continue to do so. Some existing relationships include one with Prairie Heart Institute of Illinois to provide expert cardiac care at the Health Center, and one with Advanced ICU to provide expert advanced care through telemedicine to patients in Sarah Bush Lincoln's Critical Care Unit.