Dr. Kevin Croston

Dr. Kevin Croston of North Memorial (left) and Dr. Craig Samitt, of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, architects of the new partnership between the two healthcare companies.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield (Blue Cross) and North Memorial Health have announced a new joint venture agreement that has both organizations becoming shared owners of North Memorial Health clinics.

North Memorial Health will own 51 percent of the joint venture. Blue Cross, through its parent company, is purchasing a 49 percent ownership stake in the clinics. The agreement encompasses 20 primary and specialty care clinics in the Twin Cities that operate under the North Memorial Health brand. The clinic business entity will be structured separately from both parent organizations and managed through a newly created CEO position and board of directors. Jennifer Close, currently president and chief ambulatory officer at North Memorial Health, has been named CEO of the joint venture.

“Healthcare costs too much, and it is too often difficult for people to understand and navigate. With this joint venture, we’re removing confusion from the equation,” said Dr. Craig Samitt, of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, who helped spearhead the partnership. “Blue Cross and North Memorial Health have come together to transform healthcare in Minnesota in a way that no others have, and the winner will be the consumer.”

A goal of the shared ownership structure is to reduce the overall cost of care by up to 20 percent over five years.

“Incremental change has been holding the healthcare industry back for too long. The industry is moving too slow, so we are taking bold action to create a transformative solution that is consumer friendly, improves the quality of care and delivers outcomes that are measurably better than others,” said Dr. Kevin Croston, of North Memorial, who worked with Croston to structure the partnership. “It is our mission to deliver this change with and for the communities we serve by keeping the healthcare consumer at the center of everything we do.”

Croston and Samitt say the shared ownership will also provide a comprehensive continuum of care based on where consumers want it – in the home, in the community or online. They say the result will be care that is more accessible, more local and more convenient.

“We will transform service and take consumers out of the middle of interactions with their doctor and insurer,” said Samitt and Croston in a joint statement. “We’ll take care of the hassle, so consumers can focus on their health.”

Implementation of the shared ownership will begin in January.

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