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Trios, UW Medicine to collaborate on ‘advanced services’

Trios Health and UW Medicine have agreed to a “strategic collaboration”

The pact doesn’t involve a change in ownership, control or governance for the Kennewick- or Seattle-based health systems, and it’s not a financial arrangement.

“This strategic collaboration will provide Trios Health patients prompt access to the highest level of care for advanced services while allowing the organizations to work together to continue improving the quality, safety and cost effectiveness of care in southeast Washington state,” said a joint Trios-UW news release.

UW Medicine will be the “health care system of choice for complex tertiary and quaternary care for Trios Health patients” under the agreement, the release said. Tertiary and quaternary care is the kind of advanced medical and surgical care typically provided in major hospitals in big cities, from Level 1 trauma care to organ transplants.

The agreement took effect April 1.

The new relationship is expected to mean, among other things, a more seamless process when Trios patients are transferred to UW Medicine facilities and greater collaboration with and access to UW Medicine personnel. A steering committee is forming to hammer out the details.

Trios Health has a longstanding relationship with UW Medicine, but, “We’re excited about this opportunity to solidify that relationship a little bit more,” said Glen Marshall, Trios CEO.

“We’re all being asked to do a lot more with a lot less, but I think by working together … it’s all going to be for the betterment of our patients,” he said.

Dr. Paul Ramsey, CEO of the Seattle-based health system, said the collaboration supports his organization’s mission to improve the health of the public.

“Such collaborations are vital in the process of achieving health care reform’s triple aim of improving healthcare for individuals, improving health for populations and reducing the per capita costs of healthcare,” he said in the joint news release.

He added in an interview that, “We’re very pleased with how this (arrangement) has come together.”

It’s been in the works for several months.

UW Medicine, which includes Harborview Medical Center along with several other facilities, works with other hospitals in the Tri-City area but doesn’t have similar agreements with them, Ramsey said. The pact is unique for Trios Health, Marshall told the Herald.

Officials said it could lead to further collaboration in areas from oncology and critical and cardiac care to clinical and graduate medical education.

“I really do believe it’s going to bring more advanced care to our community,” Marshall told the Herald. “I think it’s going to be a win-win-win — a win for our organization, a win for their organization and more importantly a win for our patients and the community.”

“By working together, we can more effectively lead the changes that are needed to provide better health care that’s more affordable,” Ramsey said.

In the era of federal health care reform, more and more health systems are looking for ways to collaborate. It’s a trend that’s playing out locally, with the most prominent example being the affiliation of Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland with the larger Providence Health & Services. Providence is based in Renton and operates in five states.

The Kennewick-based Trios Health is a public hospital district that includes the new Trios Southridge Hospital, the Trios Women’s and Children’s Hospital and a network of clinics.

Along with Harborview Medical Center, the Seattle-based UW Medicine includes Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, UW Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians, UW School of Medicine and Airlift Northwest.