Former Medicare, Medicaid chief joins Chicago startup AVIA

Hospital consultant AVIA has made a high-profile addition, hiring a former head of federal Medicare and Medicaid programs: Andy Slavitt, who was acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, joins AVIA as a senior adviser.

Loop-based AVIA helps hospitals and large medical systems speed up innovation by helping them partner with startups. Hospitals are particularly focused on reducing the number of patients who are readmitted too quickly, and getting higher reimbursement rates from private and public insurers.

As CMS chief from 2015 through last January, Slavitt helped implement the Affordable Care Act, as well as other programs that focused on boosting quality of care and paying doctors and hospitals to focus on prevention. He previously was a senior executive at Optum, a health management services company that also focuses on innovation, and UnitedHealth Group.

“One of the principal areas I will focus on is what major health care organizations need to do differently for our country to succeed in transforming patient care,” Slavitt said in a statement. “We have small-scale innovation all over, but until physicians, patients and systems can absorb and benefit at scale, our health care system will remain stalled.”

AVIA says its 24 health-system clients participate in forums and are able to collaborate in a peer network.