Editorial: City to see variety of health service providers

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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The Allegheny Health Network, primarily governed by Highmark — one of the two primary health care companies in Pittsburgh — has recently inked a partnership with the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore.

Pittsburgh and Maryland need the memorandum, a five-year deal that would increase the collaborative effort between two health care service giants to find more effective cancer treatment methods.

The partnership will allow for a more competitive and less monopolistic health care network in Pittsburgh, in particular, given the great influence UPMC and Highmark have over the city. Although the quality of research and the number of resources both companies have are more than sufficient, allowing partnerships to form with other leading health care companies can only provide for better solutions, better treatments and more opportunities.

The partnership between Highmark’s Allegheny Health Network and Johns Hopkins has the potential to truly benefit the patients in the respective regions that each entity serves.

According to a press release from David Parda, chair of the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, the partnership will strengthen Highmark’s impact and the region’s approach to cancer care.

“[The] Allegheny Health Network will be better able to meet the current and growing health care needs of the communities [Highmark] serve[s] today, as well as play a critical role in helping establish new standards of cancer care innovation,” Parda said.

Parda has the right idea. While UPMC and Highmark’s contract will expire in 2015 — with uncertainty of its renewal — Highmark is seeking affiliations with some of the leading health care services in the nation. Teaming with Johns Hopkins will allow the expertise of Pittsburgh researchers and doctors to collaborate with health care professionals in Maryland to increase the potential for clinical breakthroughs.

As the press release notes, the partnership will implement “clinical collaborations, medical education and a broad range of cancer research initiatives.”

The release went further, proposing the potential for cancer research funding, another component that could lead to a multitude of opportunities for Pittsburgh residents. With groundbreaking research conducted at various hotspots such as Pitt and UPMC, among others, the involvement of other entities will ultimately lead to more options for cancer patients seeking the best treatment.

The assortment of providers and partnerships will keep costs at competitive rates through the diversification of local health care services, but Pittsburghers should highly welcome another aspect of this initiative: the potential for patients to choose an option from the assortment of effective treatments that competing providers will offer

Both Highmark and UPMC — Pittsburgh’s main health care companies — have their respective innovations and breakthroughs, but adding to that will only create an environment in which the best health care is given to those that need it most.

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