LifeSpan and Care New England merger could have significant positive economic impact

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As Brown University and Rhode Island’s two largest nonprofit health care systems continue to work towards an integrated university health care system, a independent analysis commissioned by Brown concludes that closer integration of health systems, medical practices, and research can create significant economic and societal gains for communities in Rhode Island.

The analysis, published by consultancy firm Tripp Umbach, found that the proposed merger of Lifespan and Care New England health systems could increase the economic impact of academic medicine by $ 8.2 billion in 2020 to 11, $ 5 billion by 2035, a net increase of $ 3.3 billion.

Brown and health systems signed agreements in February 2021 to create an integrated university health system, with Brown committing to provide a minimum of $ 125 million over five years to support its development.

The report’s release comes as the Lifespan and Care New England merger applications are currently under review with federal regulators and the Rhode Island Attorney General, with opinions due by March 2022.

Although Brown was not a direct party to the merger, the proposed system would bring together many teaching hospitals – Lifespan’s Rhode Island, Miriam, Hasbro and Bradley hospitals, and Care New England’s Women and Infants, Kent and Butler hospitals – with Brown and his research. and medical education from Warren Alpert Medical School.

The assessment found that Rhode Island lags its peers in the size of the academic medicine industry, defined by the total economic impact of higher education, healthcare and of the biomedical industry. Even without the benefits of a fully integrated academic medical center, Brown’s medicine, public health, and biomedical engineering programs compare favorably in economic impact to peer-market medical schools.

According to the report, the lack of integration with Brown and affiliated teaching hospitals in the two health systems restricts economic development in Rhode Island, as teaching hospitals produce a lower-than-average economic impact compared to their Connecticut peers. from Massachusetts and New York.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT

Among other findings, the creation of an integrated academic medical center can dramatically increase Rhode Island’s biomedical economic development and create an estimated 10,000 new, well-paying jobs by 2035.

Through closer collaboration with payers, including the state government, an integrated academic health center can focus medical and public health resources on developing ways to prevent costly illnesses by reducing smoking, obesity, drug addiction, exposure to environmental toxins and more, the report also found.

And according to the report, the majority of well-paying jobs resulting from increased economic development will be in the private sector. These will result from the growth of the biomedical industry resulting from the commercialization of research.

Beyond the economic benefits, leaders at the University and Care New England and Lifespan say the system would offer a full range of complementary medical specialties, reduce disparities in care, and build on research agendas and of Brown’s medical education. Brown would sit on the board of the newly merged healthcare system and play a key role in integrating medical education and research into clinical practice at hospitals in the combined system.

THE BIGGEST TREND

When a merger or acquisition occurs in healthcare, joint providers often say that the patient experience will benefit. But results published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January 2020 suggest this may not be the case.

In fact, the to study found the exact opposite: Acquired hospitals actually saw a patient experience that was moderately worse, on average. In addition, the 30-day mortality and readmission rates have remained largely the same at these facilities.

The only real improvement that was found among the majority of acquired entities was in the area of ​​clinical process, which improved modestly. But the improvement was so gradual that it couldn’t be linked to the actual acquisition, and prices for commercially insured patients tended to be higher.

The results reflect research published in February 2019 that found that mergers and acquisitions can negatively impact patient satisfaction and the perception of their care.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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