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Flathead Hospital Leaders Move Toward Collaboration

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Since 2013, a task force from North Valley Hospital and Kalispell Regional Health Center has been considering joining the Hospitals in a more collaborative relationship.

The hospital in Whitefish has agreed to work more closely with Kalispell Regional Healthcare starting next year. 

The North Valley Hospital Board voted to formalize a relationship with Kalispell Regional on October 27th. Kalispell hospital leaders agreed to an affiliation agreement earlier in the month.

The hospitals already share about 70 percent of their physicians, but they don't share patient records digitally. Changing that is a big motivator for the hospitals to collaborate more formally, according to North Valley CEO Jason Spring.

“Currently, we have to print it and take it to them, or vise-versa," Spring said.  "So unless the patient tells us, ‘I was at North Valley or Kalispell,’ and we know to go get that record sometimes we don’t have all the information.”

The two hospitals plan to adopt a new shared electronic records system over the next two years.

North Valley approached the Kalispell hospital about an affiliation agreement in 2013.

It won't change either hospital's names, and each hospital will still have its own governing board. The agreement isn’t official yet, but leaders from both hospitals have signed a non-binding letter of intent to work out the final details.

They hope to have the agreement in place by January first.

Corin Cates-Carney is the news director at Montana Public Radio. He joined MTPR in 2015 and is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism.
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