Highmark grows W.Pa. network of medical sites
An office building for physicians in Murrysville, expected to open in September, is the first of a network of medical buildings that Highmark Inc. intends to establish in Western Pennsylvania.
The state's largest health insurer gave West Penn Allegheny Health System $2 million to complete interior construction of the offices, which will house independent practices of physical therapists and plastic surgeons, West Penn Allegheny obstetrics and gynecology and primary care practices, and rotating specialty practices such as endocrinology, dermatology, neurosurgery, orthopedics and cardiology, said Dan Laurent, West Penn Allegheny spokesman.
“The goal is to ultimately evolve the facility into a community wellness center that will promote healthy lifestyles through preventive and occupational health programs,” Laurent said.
Highmark is in the process of trying to acquire West Penn Allegheny in a $475 million deal as it builds a $1 billion integrated health system to compete with UPMC, the dominant hospital and physician network in Western Pennsylvania.
While the Tribune-Review and other news media have reported that Highmark will build 10 medical malls throughout the region, Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger said the insurer plans to establish three distinct types of medical-services buildings that will vary by the services they offer and the needs of the communities in which they're located.
The types include physician offices, like the one opening in Murrysville; ambulatory centers, such as West Penn Allegheny's outpatient center in Peters that houses doctors' offices, imaging and diagnostics, cancer treatment and outpatient surgery; and medical malls, which Billger declined to describe.
“We're going to have an unveiling of that concept soon,” he said of the medical malls.
Highmark has spent $32 million in acquiring property in Cranberry, Pine, Ross, Monroeville and South Strabane through a handful of shell companies.
While a medical mall can mean different things to different people, the Johnston Medical Mall in Smithfield, N.C., offers patients a cancer center, rehabilitation services, a medical supply shop, an imaging center, a hearing aid store, a hospice and home care, a pharmacy, a cafeteria, a cyber cafe and an early learning center. It even encourages “mall walkers” to use the facility, according to its website.
“Medical malls are the Wal-Marts of the health care field,” according to Healthcare Realty Development Co., a Kansas-based firm that specializes in physician recruitment and real estate development for health care organizations.
In addition to buying private physician practices and hospitals, Highmark has started ProtoCo Supply Chain Partners, a subsidiary that manages purchasing of hospital supplies, equipment and pharmaceuticals.
And it is working with MedExpress Urgent Care, a West Virginia company that operates more than 40 urgent care centers in Pennsylvania. Highmark and MedExpress have partnered to open an urgent care center in Braddock at the site of a hospital shuttered by UPMC in 2010. And Highmark purchased MedExpress' Washington County land acquisition subsidiary earlier this year.
The 22,000-square-foot medical professional building in Murrysville is owned by a partnership of doctors led by Mark Rubino, chief medical officer of Forbes Regional Hospital, the Monroeville hospital owned by West Penn Allegheny.
Forbes will lease 11,000 square feet in the building for its doctor offices, Laurent said, under an arrangement the hospital struck with Rubino prior to his hiring by Forbes. “The facility is also completely in line with the model of health care delivery that Highmark is establishing for its integrated provider network,” Laurent said. “High-quality, patient-centric care conducted in a setting that is convenient and cost-effective and that promotes wellness and disease prevention.”
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Utility regulator seeks $639,000 in penalties from electric supplier
- Google Maps opens business doors to online views for shoppers
- Many in Pennsylvania can still get benefit of Affordable Care Act
- Energy sector powers Pa. pace
- Indian firm plans exports of ethane from U.S. shale fields
- United tries to woo fliers with upgraded food options
- In 10 years as public company, Google has reshaped IPO landscape, more
- Persistence, efficiency help when appealing rejected insurance claims
- Back-to-school season deals just a click away with new services, apps
- Few homeowners expected to benefit from Bank of America’s $16.65B settlement
- Family Dollar rejects Dollar General offer