Henry Ford Health and Local Partners Disband Clinical Network

Affirmant Health, the largest clinically integrated network of more than 5,400 doctors in Michigan, is closing operations in late 2021, the organization said Friday.

The Portage-based Accountable Aid organization is disbanded after its members voted unanimously to end their agreement. ACO Affirmant included Henry Ford’s Detroit Health System, Lansing’s Sparrow Health, Saginaw’s Covenant HealthCare, Kalamazoo’s Bronson Healthcare Group, and Spectrum Health Hospital in Lakeland St. Joseph.

Spectrum Health generally dropped out of ACO in 2017.

In six years of operation, Affirmant has generated $ 75 million in total savings, the organization said in a press release.

The group voted to disband mainly because the members became more competitive and did not work together as required by the agreement.

“We have been extremely successful in achieving our goal; we knocked her out of the box, ”said Kathy Welten, interim COO and head of communications at Affirmant. “But to sustain success, you must collaborate and support a mission of value-based care that is more important than the goals of your own health care system. It’s very difficult to do it. “

Felten pointed out that the competitive environment in healthcare has made it difficult for the organization to reach consensus among its members.

Spectrum is in the process of merging with HFHS’s largest competitor, Beaumont Health, to create the state’s largest healthcare system, which will raise the stakes of their competitors.

“We’ve had leadership changes in various health systems and this has brought about a change in strategy,” Welten said. “Our original strategy worked … but as new leadership comes in and this focus shifts, things can go downhill.”

HFHS and Spectrum have other ACOs, Welten confirmed.

Mark Copson, partner at law firm Bloomfield Hills Plunkett Cooney PC and chairman of its medical practice, said losing the ACO could be problematic for its members and patients as long as the ACO is doing well.

“By participating in ACO, you eliminate variation and push everyone towards high performance, both financially and with good results,” Copson said. “If productivity is better, then the savings will be shared between the payer and the suppliers. If it is a high-performance ACO network, then losing the ACO would be detrimental to the provider financially and to healthcare. results for patients.

“If this is not very successful, then there is a strong case for not having much to lose.”

Felten believes that member organizations will continue to benefit from the cost savings and quality improvements achieved under Affirmant through their own or new ACOs.

“Honestly, thanks to the work they’ve done with us, they’ll be able to hand it over to the next organization they join,” Welten said. “This is a really meaningful job and I hope they will continue it.”

The last day of work for Affirmant, whose staff was reduced from 12 to five people, is December 31.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly described tensions between Affirmant partners.

This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crane’s Detroit business.

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