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Partners HealthCare aims to bring care closer to home, lower costs

The goal of the initiative is to improve patient experience and access while reducing costs.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Partners HealthCare recently announced a plan to bring healthcare closer to where patients live, and at a lower cost.

Partners plans to open four state-of-the-art outpatient centers that will offer a wide range of new healthcare options that better meets patients' changing needs. Initially, Partners will invest nearly $400 million in new healthcare offerings throughout eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.


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Citing the changing demands of the marketplace, Anne Klibanski, MD, President and CEO of Partners HealthCare, said patients want convenience and quality care at a lower cost -- which is what the plan aims to address.

The new sites will vary in size and offer a complement of services such as primary care, behavioral health and specialty care -- for example, orthopaedics and neurology.
Smaller sites will be solely focused on providing integrated, multispecialty (primary and specialty) physician services, while large sites will provide ambulatory surgery and a full suite of imaging in addition to physician services.

The centers will be located in Westwood (an expansion of an existing site); Woburn; Westborough; and Salem, New Hampshire.


Partners recently announced a unified system strategy to create a premier, integrated healthcare system that strives for excellence across the full spectrum of care, leveraging the range of capabilities of Partners' clinicians and staff at academic medical centers, specialty hospitals, community hospitals and other sites.

A key component of the strategy focuses on developing value-based models that deliver affordable primary care, secondary care and behavioral healthcare in the community, and makes patient-centered programs and services central to delivering better outcomes for patients.

As part of the development of these centers, Partners is working to reimagine the outpatient experience through research aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of the needs of patients, physicians and caregivers, saying relationships are ultimately at the heart of care delivery.

For the initiative, Partners will also spend up to $35 million in the Boston area to reduce inequities in health outcomes and to increase access to behavioral health services. A substantial portion of the funds will be focused on improving outcomes for Partners primary care patients, who currently experience worse health outcomes in areas such as hypertension and diabetes and have inadequate access to behavioral healthcare.

Funding to train future behavioral health clinicians who match the ethnic and linguistic diversity of patients living in Boston neighborhoods, and for piloting community-based approaches to addressing behavioral health needs, will also be included.

The new outpatient centers require local and state regulatory review. Partners estimates these new investments could generate more than 700 new jobs.


"Our academic medical centers and community hospitals provide world-class secondary and tertiary care when that is what you need," said John Fernandez, president of the newly formed Partners Ambulatory Care and President of Mass Eye and Ear. "However, for less complex care, these new options will provide the level of quality that our patients have come to expect from our clinicians, and we will be able to deliver that care at lower costs for patients and insurers. We think this type of alternative is what patients, insurers and employers expect."

"We track health outcomes data of our patients very closely and we know that we -- like all other providers -- can do a better job ensuring health equity among patients of different races and backgrounds," said Thomas Sequist, MD, Partners chief quality and safety officer. "We will make science and data-driven investments to address these inequities and measure and report upon the progress we make."

Twitter: @JELagasse

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