Evangelical, Geisinger Health enter into new partnership

LEWISBURG — Geisinger Health will begin as early as January with a plan to contribute resources and money to Evangelical Community Hospital in the coming years in a joint effort to improve health care in the region.

Kendra Aucker, Evangelical Community Hospital President and CEO, announced on Monday that Geisinger and Evangelical will be partnering on a $265 million investment for local health care. The plan will include improvements to the hospital’s computer system that would allow patients to freely move between the systems of each hospital. Aucker explained during a news conference that the partnership would also make Evangelical a tier one Geisinger Health Plan provider, eliminating out-of-pocket costs for patients with coverage.

“We are a small independent hospital, we don’t have a health plan and we needed a good solid partner in a health plan so we could reduce the cost of care and open access to everyone to our services,” Aucker said.

Aucker said that Evangelical is proud of its status as an independent hospital and that its board will continue to drive decisions moving forward.

The plan will allow for the two health care providers to better serve patients between hospitals.

“Geisinger will make a capital investment in Evangelical and Evangelical will work with Geisinger to make health care delivery in our region more efficient, cost effective and simply better for the patients that we serve,” Aucker said.

The definitive terms of the partnership are yet to be worked out as well as what the $265 million investment into the region will include, which the hospital’s communications director, Deanna L. Hollenbach, says is yet to be determined.

In the next two or three months, Aucker said that conversations should be ironed out for the relationship’s terms and the hospital will begin integrating its systems with Geisinger’s medical record software, EPIC.

“With Geisinger’s assistance,we will immediately begin the transition to a single health care related IT platform,” she said. “Something that caregivers and providers have been seeking for sometime. “

When completed in two years, the EPIC system would allow providers to have clear access to health information regardless of the hospital the care was delivered.

“Geisinger has spent the last 20 years perfecting how they work with EPIC and Evangelical will be able to leverage that experience and knowledge,” Hollenbach said.

David T. Feinberg, CEO of Geisinger Health, said this is not the first time the providers have worked together to help patients receive health care.

“Today Geisinger just got better because we are going to learn so much from Evangelical around quality, patient satisfaction and how you work with your physicians,” Feinberg said. “Evangelical and Geisinger have been working together for a number of years. This is really about deepening that partnership.”

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