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Physician frequently asked questions

Questions and answers for physicians regarding a Poudre Valley Health System-University of Colorado Hospital partnership

Got questions?

If you have questions, please contact Rulon Stacey, Dr. William Neff or any of the elected medical staff leaders. You may also email your questions to This email address is also posted on ProviderLINK.

Poudre Valley Health System and the University of Colorado Hospital have signed a joint operating agreement that creates a new organization called University of Colorado Health.

University of Colorado Health combines two of the state's most renowned hospitals with the educational, scientific and clinical renown of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

It will provide links for patients to two top-performing health systems, both Colorado born and bred, and the sharing of the considerable medical expertise, specialties, resources and reach of both University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System.

Question: Will I have to refer my patients to UCH?
Answer: No.

Q: Will my patients have to drive to Denver for care?
A: PVHS patients would remain in northern Colorado, unless, of course, there are treatments at UCH or healthcare facilities elsewhere that would better benefit a patient. This is also how patient care matters are currently handled.

Q: Will I have to become a member of the UCH medical staff?
A: No. As is now the case, where you are accredited all depends on your needs and the needs of your patients.

Q: Will independent (non-Colorado Health Medical Group physicians) be required to join Colorado Health Medical Groujp (CHMG) or UCH?
A: No.

Q: Will independent physicians be cut out of referral patterns from CHMG physicians?
A: No. In fact, please remember that all PVMG physicians have a clause in their contract stipulating that they can refer patients to any provider they wish.

Q: Will I be prohibited or restricted in any way from providing my highly specialized service?
A: No. The goal is to expand care, not restrict care.

Q: Will there be a PVHS-affiliated physician on the new company's board?
A: Yes.

Q: Will the new company create a referral pattern away from PVHS?
A: No. But we hope to have a network that is so clearly the leader in quality care that there would never be any desire to do so.

Q: What will the new arrangement mean for electronic health records?
In Colorado and throughout the nation, information technologies needed to provide state-of-the-art care have become so complex that only large systems can afford to procure and continually upgrade them. We anticipate that the union of PVHS and UCH will result in a greater emphasis in providing the latest technology for electronic health records. As a result of the partnership, Poudre Valley Health System will move to Epic, one of the industry's best electronic health records. UCH recently moved to Epic, and adding PVHS under that umbrella resulted in considerable cost savings.

Q: Will PVHS continue to purchase private physician practices and enter into joint ventures?
A: Such strategic decisions would be made by the board of directors for the new joint operating company.

Q: What will happen to projects that are now underway?
A: Projects now underway will continue. This includes PVH's third-floor renovation. Projects proposed for the future will be analyzed for their need and availability of funding-the same process that we always go through with any proposed project.

Q: Will the research and clinical trials conducted at PVHS continue?
A: Yes, and these efforts would likely be expanded. In collaboration with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, a plan would be established to conduct more research programs and clinical trials PVHS facilities.

Q: Will PVHS physicians currently engaged in research be restricted from doing research or being the primary researcher?
A: No. We expect to have access to significant research and education resources, but there is no plan to require the utilization of those resources.

Q: What will the new arrangement mean for capital purchases of medical and other equipment?
A: Such decisions involving budgetary matters would be determined by the joint operating company's board of directors. As we do now, decisions would be based on need and availability of funding.

Q: What will this new arrangement mean for physicians who are not employed by PVHS?
A: There will be no impact. Physicians who are on the medical staffs at PVH and MCR will continue to be on those staffs and use PVHS medical facilities as they now do. The new arrangement will not dictate where physicians want to refer their patients.

Q: I am a physician who is not employed by PVHS. Will I have the opportunity to become employed by the new company in the future?
A: Our current process is to determine employment through an analysis of needs of the organization. This will continue.

Q: How will this new arrangement impact the health insurance of my patients?
A: The level and extent of their healthcare coverage will continue to be determined between them and their health insurance companies.

Q: Will this new arrangement drive up the cost of health care?
A: No. Please remember that the expense of health care is typically driven by equipment costs and other factors that often are out of the control of a healthcare organization.

Question: Why now?
Answer: The organizations began exploring a closer relationship partly in anticipation of changes and challenges of healthcare reform. While these changes currently remain largely undefined, it is clear that healthcare organizations across the country will be doing more with less in the future.

There are great advantages in bringing institutions that enjoy notable clinical and financial strength together in a time of uncertain reform.

A partnership between PVHS and UCH is truly a union of equals. This partnership combines the clinical and financial strengths of each institution to ensure the continued delivery of unparalleled quality care in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region.

Q: Why PVHS and UCH?
A: Much of the consolidation now sweeping the American healthcare industry has been driven by the financial or clinical weakness of one of the partners. However, PVHS and UCH are two very strong institutions.

Both have deep roots in the community that, when linked, will create a system that will be greater than the sum of its parts. These strong community ties will only be strengthened by connecting two local organizations with similarly high standards of quality and distinct areas of service within the region.

Separately, these institutions could continue providing superior care to patients and service to the communities they serve. Together, they will push the boundaries of medicine further, attracting more research funding and hosting more clinical trials.

Both organizations:

  • are in enviable financial condition, and are highly evaluated by national credit rating agencies.
  • have each been designated as Magnet institutions by the American Nursing Credentialing Center three consecutive times-a designation only 31 hospitals worldwide have achieved.
  • have been repeatedly ranked among the best hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, other ratings services and health care organizations that closely examine their many medical specialties.
  • boast multiple Nightingale Award winners for excellence in nursing care.
  • have medical outcomes above state averages in many areas.
  • have long been deeply involved in implementing Institute for Healthcare Improvement, patient safety and clinical quality initiatives.

What's happening in Colorado?

Healthcare services have become increasingly dominated by a small number of larger health systems.

The capital and infrastructure needed for an organization to remain competitive require significant financial and human resources that stand-alone hospitals and health systems may be unable to provide.

Federal healthcare reform and other market changes will make it increasingly more critical for hospitals and health systems to work more closely together.

Information technologies needed to provide state-of-the-art care have become so complex that only large systems can afford to procure and continually upgrade them.

Colorado's changing population patterns-particularly in the geographic areas served by PVHS and UCH-would better benefit from a unified health system.

Many more opportunities exist for a larger system in such areas as cancer care, cardiac services and neurological services.

Q: What will be gained?
A: The benefits of a closer relationship between these two organizations are numerous, and include:

  • the combining of academic-based and community-focused medicine, bringing innovative and leading-edge care to patients throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
  • being able to call on the collaborative care of the deepest bench of medical specialists in the region, especially in quickly advancing areas such as oncology, cardiovascular surgery, the neurosciences and the biosciences.
  • top-quality training sites for the next generation of health care professionals eager to meet the needs of diverse populations from the Front Range to rural areas across the Eastern Plains.
  • more opportunities for people in underserved and non-urban areas to get family and complex care.

Q: What does this new system look like?
A: University of Colorado Hospital and Poudre Valley Health System will retain their own, separate boards of directors. Each organization retains its assets.

A new, central board of 11 directors has been formed to make system-wide strategic and capital decisions. However, each hospital will control operations at its respective facility. No significant changes in leadership or staffing are expected in the short term.

Q: Does this mean that PVHS will be bought out by UCH?
A: No. This is not a purchase of one organization of the other; no money will exchange hands. This is not a merger. The joint operating agreement calls for PVHS and UCH to affiliate with each other. Neither organization will be subservient to the other.

Q: Since the mid-1990s, PVHS has made a point of telling the public that it will remain an independent, locally controlled organization. The driving belief has been that local people can best make the decisions for what is needed in terms of local health care. How will the new arrangement impact this?
A: The needs of local patients will continue to take the highest priority. The new joint operating company has a board of directors that will make strategic and budgetary decisions based on the needs of the local communities for PVHS and UCH. The PVHS Board of Directors will remain in place to champion local needs. Revenue above expenses will be funneled back into the new company and used to support local needs.

Q: Is there a possibility that other hospitals or healthcare organizations in Colorado will become part of the company?
A: Yes. Colorado Springs voters will wrap up an election Aug. 28 to decide whether the city should lease Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health. Mail-in voting began Aug. 8. To the north, Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie entered into negotiations July 16 with University of Colorado Health over a management agreement that would bring the 99-bed hospital into the system’s expanding sphere.

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