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Mass. taking its time on proposed Beth Israel-Lahey merger


Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health completed merger plans way back in  last July, but Massachusetts officials are still taking a very hard look at the deal.

Indeed, the state Department of Health organized a public forum  on the potential huge Greater Boston merger,  which includes 13 hospitals and would reshape the healthcare landscape in the area. The new system would unite under a new parent company, “NewCo.”

Research from across America suggests that the hospital sector’s seemingly relentless consolidation can boost costs for consumers and insurers, among  other potential downsides for patients. However, independent hospitals such as Anna Jaques Hospital, in Newburyport, Mass., affiliated with the Beth Israel Deaconess empire, that choose to stay on their own face financial challenges.

Massachusetts’s Health Policy Commission is also taking a look at the merger, with their complete report due this summer.

The merger “represents the most significant change in the structure of the Massachusetts healthcare market in more than 20 years and will reshape the delivery of care for millions of patients,”  said Stuart Altman, Ph.D., chairman of the commission.

Lahey Health and Beth Israel, meanwhile, both asserted that the merger would  lower costs,  through, presumably, efficiencies of scale, noting that  healthcare costs in eastern Massachusetts are far higher than those in many other states.

To read more, please hit this link.

For better performance management in bundling


The American Hospital Association recommends these steps to support performance management in bundling:

  • “Develop a system to identify patients likely to qualify for bundled episodes early and assess their risk for complications, and track their progress through the bundle episode.
  • “Develop multidisciplinary teams, led by physician champions, in the implementation of standard care processes to reduce variations in care to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.
  • “Develop a high-functioning discharge planning process.
  • “Enhance data analytics and information sharing capabilities.”

Meanwhile, says a piece in Hospitals & Health Networks, Burlington, Mass.-based Lahey Health has partnered with xG Health Solutions,  in Columbia, Md., to help guide it through its bundled-payment adoption, as well as to provide analysis of CMS data from procedures using bundled payments.

Thus Lahey now knows the analytics of where and when  patients get care within 90-days after discharge,  when patients visit  emergency departments, and whether they’re  readmitted to the hospital other than at Lahey. This information helps to identify patterns the knowledge of which can be used to improve care quality.

The H&HN piece reports:

”{D}ata showed patients participating in the total joint {replacement} bundle were being readmitted with wound infections. After assessing various options, the hospital adopted seven-day dressings, which reduced infections and enhanced patient and staff satisfaction by eliminating multiple dressing changes per day while in-house and associated hospital readmissions post-discharge.”


“One of the keys to success under the bundled-payment model is developing ongoing communication with other providers within the community. Bringing together representatives from the hospital, including physicians, along with home health, acute rehab, and skilled-nursing providers, has helped build trust and understanding of what role each group serves.”

But ”it is critical that physicians have dedicated time to focus on process improvement initiatives under bundled payment.”

To read more, please hit this link.


4th time the charm for big proposed Mass. merger?


Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston.

For the fourth time, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health say that they plan to merge.

The partnership would create a new parent corporation running the combined systems, of which Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Burlington, Mass.-based Lahey Hospital & Medical Center are the flagships. Under current plans, Kevin Tabb,  M.D., the current CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, would head the combined system.

Boston Business Journal reported:

“The hospitals are also still discussing how this move would impact New England Baptist {Hospital}  and — both of which are part of Beth Israel Deaconess Center’s larger entity CareGroup. New England Baptist announced in 2014 that it would join a clinical partnership with BIDMC, and officials said they would be having discussions with both hospitals to see how they would fit in to a new entity.

“Each hospital would also maintain its existing medical school association — Lahey with Tufts Medical School and BIDMC with Harvard Medical School.

“The deal would combine Beth Israel’s presence in Boston and the South Shore with locations in Burlington, Gloucester, Beverly and Winchester. A merger would also combine behavioral health expertise at Lahey with research and educational expertise from the BIDMC.”

To read more, please hit this link.


When the urge to merge fails


This look at why three merger attempts by Burlington, Mass.-based Lahey Health and Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess have failed has useful lessons about most big proposed health-system mergers —  not just regarding Massachusetts healthcare and the power of market share there.

Perhaps Paul Levy, former president and chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center,  perhaps best summed up the problem in such attempted deals.

“Although I have no specific knowledge in this case, merger negotiations generally fall through because of a disagreement over power — between the two CEOs, the two boards or the senior clinical and administrative leaders.”



2 big Mass. systems again stop merger talks


–Photo by TIM PIERCE

For the third time in the past four years,  Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health have stopped merger talks, The Boston Globe reported. Their merger would create a formidable competitor  to PartnersHealthcare in eastern Massachusetts.

The differences between negotiators for Lahey and Beth Israel Deaconess apparently revolved around how to share the leadership of a combined system and how to put physician groups from the two systems into the same system. (This suggests that turf and ego issues were large.)

We at Cambridge Management Group wouldn’t be at all surprised if they resumed merger talks soon under the relentless pressure to compete with Partners.



Partners invading urgent-care-clinic business



Prestigious Partners HealthCare,  whose flagship is the Massachusetts General Hospital, will  open as many as a dozen urgent-care clinics over the next three years, in Massachusetts, in a move that helps highlight the more general moves in U.S, healthcare from inpatient to outpatient services and from the use of very expensive physicians to cheaper nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

It also poses a threat to nearby, Rhode Island-based CVS, whose drugstores are rapidly adding urgent-care centers. The prestige of Partners’  famous hospitals may take some business away from CVS’s urgent-care centers, which it calls MinuteClinics. It may also lighten the load a bit in some area hospitals’ emergency rooms.

Partners is late to urgent care in Massachusetts. Steward Health Care System, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Lahey Health, and others are already in the business, either directly or with partners, The Boston Globe reports.

But, The Globe reports, “Partners has advantages in its size and reputation. It is the parent of 10 hospitals, including Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s, and has 6,000 doctors, the largest network in the state. It also is planning more urgent care locations than most of its competitors.”

“This is more than a pilot for us,” said Dr. Gregg S. Meyer, chief clinical officer of Partners, told The Globe.  “These are meant to be extensions of availability and convenience for patients. We know we are not always as available as possible for our patients.”







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