VH Inova

WINCHESTER — More than three years into a seven-year agreement, Valley Health wants the community to understand the benefits of the “strategic alliance” with the Inova Health System.

Like Valley Health, the Falls Church-based Inova is a nonprofit organization. The two systems run six and five hospitals, respectively, but Inova is richer and larger.

In June 2013, the two systems announced they would engage in a partnership to pool resources and develop new programs. The partnership is referred to as the “Alliance” and came amid questions of a sale or merger in 2013.

Valley Health officials said on Monday, as they did in 2013, that the system maintains its independence.

“Through the Alliance, Valley Health and Inova have forged a unique relationship between our two independent health systems,” reads a letter from Valley Health President and CEO Mark Merrill.

So far, the partnership has entered Valley Health into an electronic records database, entered the system into an Inova-owned provider network and established two new medical programs.

Also, Merrill said, the partnership has driven costs down because the two systems have aggregated purchasing contracts to get lower prices.

Benefits like this have “kept the cost of care down,” said Dr. Christopher Rumpf, senior vice president and chief quality and medical officer at Valley Health. “The value [of the Alliance] is in the two organizations looking for areas to improve services.”

Services have improved through the use of use of EpicCare, an electronic records management system which Valley Health became a part of in 2014 as a result of the partnership. The database is dominant in the industry, Merrill said, and allows the hospital to access and document patient medical history without the use of paper charts. This helps eliminate repeat and some unnecessary care and ultimately save money and time.

Valley Health has also joined Signature Partners, a clinically integrated provider network wholly owned by Inova. That means Inova agrees to become responsible for the care of the population that Valley Health services, and vice versa. This helps bring some of Inova’s services to the more rural regions Valley Health covers and gives Valley Health access to Inova’s management tools and infrastructure.

Two new programs have been established at Winchester Medical Center (WMC): the Pediatric Hospitalist Program (November 2015) and Gynecologic Oncology services (January 2016).

According to a pamphlet jointly published by the two systems, the pediatric program has insured 24/7 pediatric specialist presence at the medical center. The gynecologic oncology program brings Inova doctors to see patients at WMC, which is closer than Fairfax for people living near Valley Health’s other area hospitals in Shenandoah and Warren counties, and in West Virginia.

“[The programs] create more services in the community so people don’t have to leave,” Merrill said. “It brings [Inova’s] capabilities here.”

Both Merrill and Rumpf said the collaboration will continue to benefit the area.

Valley Health includes Winchester Medical Center; Warren Memorial Hospital; Shenandoah Memorial Hospital; Page Memorial Hospital; War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.; Hampshire Memorial Hospital in Romney, W.Va., and several care facilities.

Inova includes Inova Fairfax Hospital, Inova Children’s Hospital, Inova Alexandria Hospital, Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, Inova Loudoun Hospital, Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, urgent care centers, medical pavilions and other services, according to its website, www.inova.org.

— Contact Onofrio Castiglia at ocastiglia@winchesterstar.com

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