Qsource, a non-profit regional health care consultancy based in Memphis and operating throughout Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana, announced plans to merge with Indianapolis-based Network Strategies & Innovations Inc. (NSI).  The agreement expands Qsource's health care services portfolio and creates a new corporate infrastructure for NSI, while retaining its name.

As a Quality Innovation Network – Quality Improvement Organization under contract to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Qsource works with health care providers, partners, stakeholders and healthcare consumers to ensure that quality care is delivered to Medicare beneficiaries. 

NSI currently operates three of the 18 End-Stage Renal Disease Networksunder their own contract with CMS, including The Renal Network (Networks 9 & 10),which serves Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois; Heartland Kidney Network (Network 12), which serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Susie Stark , the president and CEO of NSI,told NN&I that the partnership with Qsource will help the Networks expand their capabilities in a number of treatment areas. "Qsource is a strong, quality oriented company that compliments well with our core purpose. The affiliation will help us work in areas that affect our patient population but are not currently within our scope of work, such as CKD stages 4 and 5, care transitions, hospitalizations, diabetes and cardiac health, for example. 

Stark said that the Renal Network and the Heartland Kidney Network place a high priority on patient-engagement. "Active and informed patients lead to better treatment results. We have a variety of programs, including our Learning & Action Networks (LANs), where beneficiaries can provide input to help health care providers respond to the unique needs of renal disease patients, and can help identify the best ways to spread best practices or design and implement activities that promote improvements in patient health management."  

Working directly with health care providers, NSI monitors the quality and improvement of care ESRD patients receive, collects data to administer national Medicare ESRD programs, and provides technical assistance to providers caring for persons with ESRD, in addition to assisting ESRD patients with grievances.

Both ESRD Networks will maintain a local presence, with current staff continuing operations while utilizing the expanded resources and expertise provided by the Qsource merger.

Qsource will support the three ESRD Networks by providing corporate support and consolidating operational and administrative functions for finance, human resources, information technology, and procurement.

Under terms of the agreement, NSI and its three ESRD Networks will become an independent subsidiary of Qsource by the end of 2015.