Ellis Medicine and St. Peter’s Health Partners will collaborate on a major initiative to bring private physicians, health systems and providers together in an innovative organization, spokesmen for the hospitals confirmed Friday.
The organization would create new ways of providing health services and be the first of its kind in the region. They declined to provide specific details about the initiative, deferring questions until a news conference scheduled for Tuesday morning at Ellis Hospital. Officials from both organizations, including Ellis Medicine President and CEO Jim Connolly and St. Peter’s Health Partners President and CEO James Reed, will be there to formally announce the partnership.
“There have been discussions to look at how the two organizations might collaborate in the future,” said Ellis spokesman Jon Pierce. “The talks are not about a possible merger. They’re just looking for ways they can cooperate from a clinical, business or financial perspective.”
Discussions have been ongoing for several months, he said.
Ellis, based in Schenectady, and St. Peter’s, based in Albany, are both large players in the Capital Region health care market, taking on even larger roles whenever and wherever they can. In the past several years, Ellis Medicine has taken on the services and responsibilities of three hospitals while St. Peter’s ballooned through the merger of Seton Health, Northeast Health and St. Peter’s Health Care Services, the parent company of St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany.
Both organizations have competed for pieces of the Saratoga County market in recent years. St. Peter’s Health Partners boasts 40 percent of the market share in the fast-growing county and recently won approval for a $7.5 million expansion of its urgent care center in Clifton Park. The center is less than a mile from Ellis Medicine’s new 24-hour urgent care center, which opened near Northway Exit 9 in 2012.
“These are two health systems that have already done a fair amount of collaboration and worked on a number of different partnerships with others in a lot of different ways,” said St. Peter’s spokesman Elmer Streeter. “With all the things happening in health care and with health reform, the boards and senior leadership have really been exploring how their systems might further collaborate.”
They are the latest in a string of health care organizations announcing efforts to collaborate, a result of the changing health care landscape under President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act. The ACA has forced hospitals to look differently at how they achieve their bottom line. Hospital care is some of the costliest care around, so as health care shifts toward preventative care and keeping people out of the emergency room, hospitals have had to rethink their balance sheets.
Last month, Glens Falls and Saratoga hospitals announced they would begin exploring opportunities for collaboration. A week later, Albany insurer CDPHP and Buffalo insurer Independent Health announced they were forming a strategic alliance to share best practices and expertise, partner with physicians, invest in new technology and develop new products.
Before that, Albany Medical Center and Saratoga Hospital teamed up to launch a $17.5 million urgent care center in Malta, which opened last summer. Both hospitals had been vying for that market share, and teaming up allowed them to share resources and save capital.
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