Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) and Wellmont Health System today announced the formation of a strategic partnership to focus on improving the wellbeing of the people of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Together, the two organizations will use their respective resources and capabilities to explore ways to keep people healthy, address modifiable lifestyle risks and optimize care for the chronically ill. This enhanced relationship will evolve the way health care is delivered in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Goals have been established to help increase the region’s percentage of “healthy” people; reduce per capita health-related risk; lower incidence and prevalence of chronic illness; create fewer complications from known chronic disease; lower morbidity; reduce utilization of healthcare services; reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions; lower medical cost; increase productivity and performance and extend life expectancy. This strategic initiative builds off an existing long-term relationship between Wellmont and Healthways. For several years, Wellmont has entrusted Healthways to help manage its diabetic patients. Healthways is also assisting Wellmont with strategic planning and physician integration and network development. This partnership will now provide several new potential opportunities for collaboration, including improving the wellbeing of Wellmont’s employees, deploying a wellness improvement solution to employers in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, optimizing patient treatment in the post-acute setting and exploring how to most effectively cooperate with other community efforts to improve wellness in the communities served by Wellmont. Additionally, Wellmont and Healthways will work together to develop innovative offerings for patients, employers and payors that focus on more fully engaging physicians in the proactive management of individuals with modifiable lifestyle risks and actively engaging all those involved in caring for individuals with chronic illness. "Our patients and families in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia face real challenges if they want to stay healthy and avoid chronic disease," said Denny DeNarvaez, president and CEO of Kingsport-based Wellmont. "We view taking responsibility for the health of our neighbors as a natural extension of the healing environment Wellmont has created. We are about more than just treating the sick – we also value our ability to keep people well and keep them out of the hospital. If we are to be a leader in addressing the unsustainable nature of health care in this country, we must re-engineer the way we collaborate with physicians, employers, health plans and communities.