Wyoming hospitals and other health care organizations around the state are positioning themselves to meet mandates from the Affordable Care Act as they appear on the horizon.

Wyoming Medical Center CEO Vicki Diamond is the acting  president of a newly formed association, the Wyoming Integrated Care Network. The goal of the network is to share learning and work together as health care changes unfold.

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"Wyoming is so unique in the sense that we only have a little over 500 thousand people in the state, but lots of territory. This gives us a chance for us all to work together in trying to improve the health of the population and meet some of the intent of the Affordable Care Act."

The Affordable Care Act mandates that care be coordinated along the whole continuum of care with the goals of a healthier population, better experience of the system for the patient, better outcomes, and cost containment throughout.

Diamond says the idea is for Wyoming to be proactive and stay ahead of the game. She suggests there are misconceptions out there kindling resistance to reform. She says Wyoming is a very independent state.

"There's just a lot of scepticism as there is in any new thing and Wyoming is very independent and our communities are independent. I think the biggest concern in our small communities is that the big hospitals like Cheyenne are trying to take over the whole state health care, and that's not true."

Diamond  says the patient's experience of the system will change. Central to that, is what's being called the "Medical Home". That structure should bring the required continuity. Within that, Diamond says patients should have an easier time understanding their treatment.

"We're hoping that the patient can navigate the system easier. Right now they go to five or ten different providers in a year depending if they have a chronic disease. And then nobodies coordinating that care among all those providers,  so we're hoping that the patients;  One, understand the care needs that they have so they can cut their own personal expense as well as we can cut the overall expense."

Changes to the way in which care is accessed, Diamond says, should also keep Wyoming hospitals and facilities competitive and that's important to the economy.

"Otherwise Wyoming is going to be a state where we just have local primary care and everything is going to go out of the state. That's a significant amount of revenue that goes out of the state, because we employ people in the state. Its about 6 percent of the GDP in the state, health care. In Wyoming you could lose a significant amount of that. That could hurt the state in terms of jobs. So we want to keep as much care as possible in the state."

At this point 14 hospitals  across Wyoming are participating in the Wyoming Integrated Care Network.

Diamond says their first meeting is planned around the medical home and what that should look like in a Wyoming community.

The network will be hiring an executive director by the end of the year.

The full interview with Wyoming Medical Center, CEO, Vickie Diamond will be part of wider view of health care reform in the state next month on Report To Wyoming.