Cardiology Consultants of Philadelphia, the Rothman Institute, and other large specialty physician groups are organizing to link their practices' medical records electronically and eventually enter joint contracts with employers and insurers.

Papers sealing a partnership creating NueHealth Greater Philadelphia are expected to be signed Thursday. NueHealth will start with 750 physicians from independent groups; an additional 250 have verbally committed to NueHealth, said its chief executive, Tom Eicke.

"You'll see a real sea change from this entity over the next 6 to 12 months," Eicke said.

Whether NueHealth makes an impact that quickly, the company adds a new dimension to efforts - now focused on primary care and led by hospitals and the region's largest insurer - to link doctors in the region.

"Patients in our communities tend to get more care from specialists than they do in other parts of the country," said Katherine Schneider, president of the Delaware Valley Accountable Care Organization, a joint venture of five area health systems. "That presents an opportunity to improve care coordination."

NueHealth hopes to strike deals with the Delaware Valley ACO and Tandigm Health L.L.C., an Independence Health Group joint venture designed to help primary-care doctors improve care and cut costs, but nothing is imminent.

Doctors participating in NueHealth said the company's goal was not higher prices, but better quality and patient satisfaction.

NueHealth's immediate goal is to create an integrated network that will allow different systems of electronic medical records to be shared between specialty doctors' offices. The hope is that easily sharing records will help eliminate redundant tests and labs.

"If you go to a hospital, the doctor on the third floor is connected through their computers to the doctor on the fourth floor and to the ER," Eicke said. "We're doing that across a wide variety of physician practices and offices in the area," with software that translates between different systems, he said.

To do so, NueHealth expects to spend $1 million to $3 million in the next 18 months, said Dan Tasset, chairman of Nueterra Holdings L.L.C., a company in Leawood, Kan., that is also developing NueHealth partnerships in other regions.

Nueterra is known in the Philadelphia region for its partnerships with Rothman, Jefferson Health, Main Line Health, and others in specialty hospitals and surgery centers.

NueHealth grew out of Stuart Brilliant's tenure as president of Paoli Hospital's medical staff from 2012 to 2014, though NueHealth is not connected to Paoli Hospital or its owner, Main Line Health.

Physicians urged Brilliant, an emergency medicine doctor who is now a NueHealth board member, to help them be more active in the changes sweeping through the industry.

Health-care providers of all stripes are operating under the assumption that payments will change from discrete sums for individual services to blanket payments for keeping people healthy or lump sums for entire episodes, such as hip replacement.

Doctors see NueHealth, which plans to expand its network to include physical therapists and other providers, as a means to negotiate such "bundled" payments and so-called risk contracts with insurers and large employers, under which the doctors could lose money if expenses overshoot targets.

Anthony Coletta, chief executive of Tandigm, welcomed the effort by the specialists group to work on cost and quality, but he had a word of caution.

"You don't want them to evolve into the same thing, which was years ago, 'be strong, be better, just to negotiate better rates.' Those days are over," Coletta said.

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