PITTSBURGH (AP) — Allegheny Health Network has a memorandum of understanding for a five-year affiliation with the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore.
The seven-hospital western Pennsylvania group is owned by health insurer Highmark Inc. and announced the deal at a news conference Wednesday. The move comes as Allegheny Health and Highmark continue to compete with the much larger University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the region’s dominant hospital network.
“In seeking to affiliate with the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Allegheny Health Network will be better able to meet the current and growing health care needs of the communities we serve today as well as play a critical role in helping establish new standards of cancer care and innovation and quality for the future,” said Dr. David Parda, who chairs the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute.
The pending agreement won’t require Pittsburgh-area cancer patients to be treated in Baltimore, officials with both entities said.
Allegheny Health was created last year after Highmark bought the financially troubled West Penn Allegheny Health System and two other western Pennsylvania hospitals.
Highmark has been looking to increase its provider network, because UPMC won’t renew a reimbursement agreement with Highmark. Highmark subscribers will lose in-network access to most UPMC hospitals and doctors at the end of the year, meaning patients will pay larger deductibles if they use UPMC facilities.
UPMC’s cancer treatment services are among the few services, along with access to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, that will continue to be in-network for Highmark users after the reimbursement contract expires, however. That means the Johns Hopkins affiliation should enable Allegheny Health Network to compete more directly with UPMC to provide cancer treatment services for Highmark customers.
“This is what competition is all about,” UPMC spokesman Paul Wood told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which first reported the Johns Hopkins affiliation. “We welcome it in the best interests of the community and look forward to competing on the basis of quality, cost and services provided to patients.”
Dr. William Nelson, director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, said the Allegheny Health Network collaboration would provide it with new opportunities for research.
“In the changing landscape of health care services, innovative initiatives like this will keep us at the forefront of discovery and patient-centered care,” Nelson said.
Details of the affiliation are expected to take a few months to finalize.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)