After years of matchmaking and negotiating, Intermountain Healthcare has completed its merger with SCL Health, increasing the nonprofit’s attain throughout the nation and bringing eight extra hospitals and 160 new clinics underneath the Intermountain title. The mixed group now represents the eleventh largest nonprofit well being system within the U.S., in response to a information launch.
Organizational leaders say the change is about sustainability and can enhance Utah’s largest hospital system’s capability to provide worth for its sufferers — each new and present. Intermountain has been in merger talks with different well being techniques for years, first with Dakota-based Sanford Health in 2020 (the proposed merger fell through later that very same 12 months) after which with SCL Well being. The organizations first introduced their plans to merge final September, and the ultimate merger formally occurred on April 1.
“They needed to hitch us due to our deal with innovation, on doing issues like digital transformation and telehealth, [our] help for rural communities, the best way we’ve continued to alter the best way we ship care in order that it’s decrease and decrease price and extra accessible and nearer to dwelling for individuals,” Dr. Marc Harrison, Intermountain’s CEO, informed The Salt Lake Tribune.
Skilled as a pediatric intensive care physician, he says he needs to see the Intermountain approach propagated throughout the nation, a mannequin he describes as delivering care that’s “demonstrably top quality, demonstrably low price, demonstrably revolutionary, demonstrably humane.”
Harrison believes Intermountain has options for most of the nation’s well being care woes; it is without doubt one of the causes he has pursued partnerships with out-of-market organizations for therefore lengthy. The merger will permit Intermountain to serve communities in 4 new states: Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Kansas, including to its listing of services in Utah, Idaho and Nevada.
It is going to additionally give the physician the chance to check his speculation about what well being care ought to seem like throughout the US.
“Right here in Utah, we’re very lucky to reside in a wholesome state, with good well being care that’s, comparatively talking, reasonably priced,” he stated. “Not many individuals within the nation can say that. And the extra we are able to be taught to additional that, and the extra we are able to drive that motion throughout the US, I believe the higher it’s for Individuals.”
In some methods, his religion within the Utah-based system ties again to the genesis of the group practically a half-century in the past.
When Intermountain Healthcare began in 1975, it had one directive: grow to be a mannequin system that others might emulate, stated Michael Leavitt, former Utah governor and new chairman of Intermountain’s Board of Trustees. He sees the merger as an indication that Intermountain has completed that objective.
“I really feel assured in saying when you ask 100 educated individuals who they thought the highest 5 [health] techniques within the nation had been, 90% of them would listing Intermountain of their high 5,” he informed the Tribune.
“It was not conceived to be only a Utah system, Leavitt stated of Intermountain, explaining the mission of growth shared by Harrison. “I believe it’s designed to acknowledge that there’s an inside West right here that’s built-in economically and culturally. … What is going to occur right here is that the standard of care in that total area will enhance, not simply because Intermountain’s there, however as a result of they maintain a brand new normal.”
The merger may also enhance Intermountain’s sustainability, the brand new chairman stated, permitting it to proceed to pursue institutional objectives as a nonprofit that may’t enter capital markets to acquire funding.
When the merger was introduced in September, Harrison estimated the mixed techniques would generate round $14 billion in annual revenue.
Traditionally, well being care mergers have completed little to assist sufferers’ pocketbooks, in response to a study from the Center for American Progress. In-market consolidation typically ends in decreased competitors, which ends up in increased costs. Nonetheless, since Intermountain’s merger is a cross-state growth of care, somewhat than a consolidation of market share in a single geographic location, Harrison stated it won’t reduce competitors.
It stays to be seen how the merger will have an effect on prices for sufferers, and in what approach.
Leavitt, who additionally served because the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services underneath the George W. Bush administration, stated there may be an ongoing motion in well being care away from fee-for-service medication and towards value-based care, which emphasizes higher outcomes and decrease prices.
Will Utahns see a change in well being care?
For all the advantages Harrison foresees stemming from the merger, he doesn’t suppose Utahns will discover any giant modifications – at the very least not straight away.
The mixing course of is anticipated to take two years, throughout which period the organizations’ ancillary groups, such because the human assets and finance departments, will mix. Leaders from each organizations have already stuffed into administration roles, together with on the brand new Board of Trustees, and Harrison expects a wholesome cross-pollination of individuals and concepts.
Harrison, who expects a lot of Intermountain’s operations to stay the identical, will proceed to function president and CEO, whereas Leavitt has taken over as chair of the built-in board.
Harrison expects the built-in system to proceed investing in digital and telehealth providers, rising the accessibility of care whereas additionally working with the federal authorities to decrease prices. He additionally stated he’s excited for Intermountain entities to be taught from their new companions, particularly mentioning how SCL Well being ran their ambulatory surgical procedure facilities and the best way they interacted with rural communities.
“They’re a really succesful group,” he added. “And this isn’t a one-way deal, in that they’re solely becoming a member of us as a result of we all know issues that they don’t, however we’re actually excited to have them be a part of us as a result of they’re superb at some issues which are going to benefit Utahns.”
He reiterated that he doesn’t anticipate Intermountain to chop any of its now 59,000 staff, who work at its 33 mixed hospitals and 385 clinics.
SCL Well being is a Catholic-affiliated system and oversaw a mixture of secular and faith-based entities, Harrison stated, the latter of which operated underneath spiritual directives that prohibited them from offering contraceptives, performing surgeries intended to prevent or end a pregnancy, or conducting in vitro fertilization. These entities will stay Catholic, in title and observe. Nonetheless, all unique Intermountain services will proceed as secular models.
“Intermountain has simply embraced us persevering with to keep up our Catholicity,” stated SCL Well being CEO Lydia Jumonville, in September. “We’ll observe the entire Catholic directives and [Ethical and Religious Directives], and the entire values of the Catholic hospitals might be there.”
Intermountain Healthcare has spiritual roots as properly and began as a 15-hospital system that was donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the communities they served. Intermountain administrates the nonprofit whereas its Board of Trustees represents the neighborhood’s pursuits.
Harrison requested that the general public oversee the expansion of the neighborhood asset within the coming years as properly.
“Our neighbors right here in Utah, please watch us rigorously for continued deal with bettering our communities,” he stated.
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