COLUMBUS -- Columbus Community Hospital is joining a network of other independent hospitals to provide more cost-efficient, quality care to patients.

Since 2012, CCH has been working with eight other hospitals in Nebraska to form the Regional Provider Network.

The legal structure of the effort still is being finalized, but Mike Hansen, president and CEO of CCH, said the network will present an opportunity for the hospitals to collaborate, innovate, improve patient outcomes and become more efficient.

Each hospital will continue to be run independently.

“We are all independent hospitals. We all want to remain independent hospitals. We want to retain local governances, and we want to be able to work with anyone we want to work it with no exclusivity,” Hansen said.

He said the nine hospitals already have working relationships with each other, and this move will take the relationship to a new level.

The other hospitals in the network are the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Methodist Health System in Omaha, Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk, Fremont Area Medical Center, Great Plains Regional Medical Center in North Platte, Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings, Regional West Health Services in Scottsbluff and Bryan Health in Lincoln.

The hospitals will form a limited liability company and have a governing board made up of an executive and a physician from each facility.

The alliance isn’t unique to the health care world. Alliances between hospitals are becoming more common. CCH has shared physicians from facilities in Lincoln, Omaha and the surrounding area for some time. The network is establishing a more formalized approach to that, Hansen said.

The hospitals will work together to improve how they operate on both the financial and patient-care levels.

Hansen said there could be cost savings for the hospitals by pulling resources to avoid duplication of services and by sharing vendor contracts with insurance companies. There also is the opportunity to share medical delivery support through resources like telemedicine and physician rotations.

More facilities could join the network in the future.

“The nine hospitals are just the beginning. We are looking at other hospitals to join the network. There are over 40 hospitals that have expressed an interest,” Hansen said.

CCH and the other eight hospitals are considered owners of the network. Additional hospitals that could join would be participating members.

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