While the health-care debate in Congress continues, closer to home the thousands of employees at Jefferson Health and Independence Blue Cross are concentrating on doing the right thing for Philadelphia by creating innovative joint initiatives that will make our region a transformed, healthier community. Our goals are to bring care closer to home, reduce health-care disparities, and make it easier and less expensive for you and your family to partner with Independence and Jefferson  to live a healthier life and obtain medical care where and when you need it.

Last month, that optimistic health-care future moved closer to reality as Independence and Jefferson signed a five-year agreement that not only continues the partnership providing Independence members access to the expanding Jefferson provider network and facilities, but that also brings together two of the nation's most powerful health-innovation organizations.

Almost two years ago, Jefferson and Independence announced an innovation partnership resulting in a series of "hackathons" and funded entrepreneurs in residence who work to solve some of health care's thorniest problems. Unlike the "one step at a time" approach often taken in health care, our partnership asks a simple question: What will be obvious 10 years from now that makes health care easier, more accessible, and more equitable — and how can we do it today?

Those discussions have already led to software solutions for better management of seizures, virtual visits to avoid hospital readmissions, and new protocols to avoid joint-replacement infections. Our teams are peering into the future of virtual reality, augmented intelligence, and even drones to deliver medicine and other needed health aids for patient emergencies. This collaboration is working.

Independence and Jefferson are committed to working together to bring tomorrow's health care to Philadelphia today. What does that mean for you?

  • We will provide care when and where you need it, whether at your home, on your mobile device, or at an urgent-care center in your neighborhood. Jefferson and Independence have the technology to shift the focus of care to you and away from the hospital's four walls of the past.
  • We will join the digital consumer revolution. JeffConnect is the largest specialty telehealth provider in the region. Jefferson and Independence have agreed to explore ways to give members who have complex conditions 24/7/365 coverage through telehealth providers based on personalized health plans, so that a Jefferson provider is always within reach wherever you are.
  • We will address disparities of health. Independence has been a leader in providing patients with access to the power of genomics. In cancer care, we will leverage the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center's expertise in identifying patients' genetic risk factors and matching treatments to the cancer's genetic vulnerabilities.

We believe it is an exciting time in health care. Jefferson and Independence are honored to take care of you and your family. And despite the gridlock in Washington, in Philadelphia we are moving full steam ahead to create a bright future together.

Stephen Klasko is president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. mediarelations@jefferson.edu Daniel J. Hilferty is president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross. newsroom@ibx.com