Partnership allows hospitals to barter with device makers

Power in numbers. A health insurer and three hospital systems have teamed up to track the long-term effectiveness of contrast media, stents, defibrillators, heart valves and other implantable devices to identify top performers and negotiate purchasing agreements with manufacturers.

Dubbed SharedClarity, the partnership pairs UnitedHealthcare with Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, Dignity Health in San Francisco and Advocate Health Care in metro Chicago. As a group, they serve approximately 7 million patients per year; UnitedHealthcare covers more than 40 million beneficiaries, according to the company. The program plans to add other health systems as members as well.

Physicians will conduct the device studies by compiling data from member hospitals and claims information from UnitedHealthcare. Specifically, they will assess devices used in cardiology, ophthalmology orthopedics, radiology, imaging, cardiac surgery and general surgery.

Consultants from the Lewin Group will oversee the research. The studies will not be funded by manufacturers.

“Independent research on the long-term performance of these widely used medical devices will help each of our health systems improve care and result in better patient outcomes,” said Lee B. Sacks, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Advocate Health Care, in a release.