UMMS to provide management to Union Hospital

The University of Maryland Medical System will provide management services to Union Hospital in Elkton, the latest in a series of partnerships state hospitals are forming as they prepare for changes in the health reimbursement system.

The affiliation will allow Union to tap into the resources of a major academic center and improve patient access to doctors and clinical services, the orhanizations said Wednesday in announcing the partnership.

Union Hospital will keep full control over its finances and physical assets during the 24-month agreement. It has the option to renew the contract after that period of time.

Hospitals around Maryland are looking for ways to generate more revenue and cut costs as the state's reimbursement model moves from one based on number of admissions to one focused on capping costs with preventive care and by reducing overnight stays.

"As health care changes, hospitals are taking a more collaborative approach to improving local access to high-quality, cost-effective care," Dr. Kenneth Lewis, president and CEO of Union Hospital, said in a statement. "A formal relationship with the University of Maryland Medical System provides us with additional expertise and resources to better serve our community."

The 122-bed hospital also collaborates with Nemours Children's Hospital in Delaware for pediatric program development and hospital support.

Under the agreement, Union Hospital hopes to expand its oncology research program, recruit more physicians and reduce supply chain expenses.

Examples of hospital consolidations and combining of resources in Maryland continue to increase.

Carroll Hospital Center announced this week that it was aggressively looking for partners.

Both the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine have expanded by adding hospitals around the state to their networks.

Late last year, the University of Maryland Medical System completed a merger with Upper Chesapeake Health in Harford County, and it acquired St. Joseph Medical Center in late 2012.

LifeBridge Health recently invested in the Bel Air-based urgent care company ExpressCare. Three health systems in Western Maryland — Frederick Regional Health System, Meritus Health and Western Maryland Health System — announced last year that they had signed a letter of intent to form an alliance to explore ways to improve care for patients and reduce costs.

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