This week, Providence Health and Services Western Montana announced that it was embarking on a new venture called the Northern Rockies Healthcare Alliance, which could radically change the way that Montanans pay for health care. Regional chief operating and strategic officer for Providence Western Montana Region Mark Wakai describes the intent behind the new alliance.

"We are partnering with the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, here in the state of Montana to create a Coordinated Care Network," Wakai said. "The intent is to provide a reduction in cost and improve quality, and improve the patients experience by coming together in this coordinated approach for the betterment of all Montanans."

The alliance hopes to bring not only better care, but a new philosophical approach to the way Montanans pay for health care. Wakai says one of the chief benefits will be lower costs, but lists many others...

"[There are many benefits]: a reduction in duplication of care, coordination of such care, making sure that what you need is what you're getting, and, if you are not receiving that, then this payment mechanism that we are in, which is a fee-for-service, would move to a fee-for-value so you would pay for what you are expecting to receive," Wakai said

Wakai says the new payment system is a "mea culpa" of sorts for the hospital system, which has often been blamed for the rising cost of health care. The new payment system will allow payers to put responsibility for outcomes directly on the hospital with clearer expectations.