News releases from Baptist Health and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences say the two organizations intend to enter a health care alliance.

The release emphasizes the institutions are not merging but aim to expand education opportunities and deliver clinic care more efficiently. The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees’ approval will be necessary.

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Prepared statements from leaders:
 

“Arkansas faces a wide range of significant health challenges, including obesity, cancer, heart disease, mental health and premature death,” said UAMS Interim Chancellor Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D. “Through this enhanced alliance, UAMS and Baptist Health can better help address those challenges to improve the health and well-being of Arkansans.”

And

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“Collaboration is the key strength which will enable organizations like Baptist Health and UAMS to serve more Arkansans,” said Baptist Health CEO Troy Wells. “The value of this alliance will be our collective efforts to improve health in a more deliberate
manner to serve the needs of diverse communities.”

The institutions have worked jointly on other programs before — including physical medicine, vascular surgery, maternal-fetal medicine and infectious disease, as well as emergency medicine and orthopedics at the Baptist Medical Center in Conway.

The release said the alliance will bring a new physician residency program in internal and family medicine at the Baptist Med Center in North Little Rock.

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Few other specifics were listed. The release said institutions are “evaluating” ways to enhance service and reduce costs in clinical services and health management.  They aim to coordinate care for Medicare recipients starting in 2018 to deliver the right care and avoid duplicating tests.

The release said UAMS and Baptist also have talked with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas about serving Medicaid recipients who have behavioral health or developmental disabilities needs. New legislation created a means for Provider-owned Arkansas Shared Savings Entities to manage such patients. The boards of the UA and Baptist Health will have to approve an entry into this field of health management supported by public money.

The alliance brings together Baptist Health, a private nonprofit with nine hospitals and 9,100 employees, and a massive public institution with more than 10,000 employees.

This will, in time, lead to questions about staffing, insurance plan participation and duplicate programs. None of those issues are directly mentioned in the releases.

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An effort by UAMS to form a similar alliance with St. Vincent foundered four years ago,

The institutions issued this statement of strategic intent.