May 17, 2020

Baylor Scott & White Health and Memorial Hermann Health System are set to merge

M&A
USA
Hospital Leadership
Hospital Operations
Catherine Sturman
3 min
Scott & White Hospital
It has been revealed that Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health and Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System have signed a letter of intent t...

It has been revealed that Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health and Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System have signed a letter of intent to merge into a combined system to further strengthen communities, advance the health of Texans and transform the delivery of healthcare as it aims to consolidate its position in the market.

As two of the most comprehensive not-for-profit health systems in Texas, Baylor Scott & White Health and Memorial Hermann, both founded as faith-based organisations, share similar missions, values and visions for the future. It will also become a national model for integrated, consumer-centric, cost-effective care.

“We must lead the change in our industry, while insisting we continue to fulfil our unwavering commitments to meeting the needs of all Texans,” added Jim Hinton, CEO, Baylor Scott & White Health

The health systems, both nationally recognised and dedicated to improving access and continuity of care, serve as vibrant, economic engines in more than 30 Texas counties, employing more than 73,000 across the state. Both have strong ties to the academic medical community and together will be positioned to expand those affiliations to advance medical training and research programmes, while continuing to attract and retain the very best talent.

“Together, we believe we will be able to accelerate our commitments to make care more consumer centric; grow our capabilities to manage the health of populations; and bend the unsustainable healthcare cost curve in the state,” stated Chuck Stokes, President and CEO, Memorial Hermann.

“We have a unique opportunity to reinvent healthcare and make a profound difference in the lives of millions of Texans.”

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Through the merger, Jim Hinton, CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health will become the CEO of the combined system and will be joined in the proposed Office of the CEO by Chuck Stokes, President and CEO of Memorial Hermann and Pete McCanna, President of Baylor Scott & White Health. The system will also have a new name, which is set to be determined.

“This proposed combination starts the next chapter in the legacies of service and innovation for both systems. It will not only make a positive difference in the lives of millions here, it will become a national model,” commented Ross McKnight, chair of the Baylor Scott & White Holdings Board of Trustees.

Together, the two systems include 68 hospital campuses, more than 1,100 care delivery sites, nearly 14,000 employees, independent and academic physicians and two health plans; and they currently record nearly 10mn patient encounters annually. The companies also accumulated over $13bn in revenue and more than $360mn in operating income combined in the fiscal year ended June 30, according to Healthcare Dive.

"Expectations are that the increased scale will improve operating efficiencies, and provide better care and range of services for patients and the communities," explained Colliers International Senior Vice President Beth Young.  

"Providers are feeling financial pressure from the evolving insurance market and the way hospitals are reimbursed. There may be significant advantages of size when the systems are in discussions

"The cost of health care is the No. 1 issue in America, whether it's in Washington, D.C., or in Austin, Texas, or in the benefits office of an employer here in Houston. Taking cost out of the system will be an important part of this journey as we come together," added Hinton.

 

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Jun 14, 2021

Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies

#longcovid
#digitaltherapy
#neuroplasticity
#covid19
4 min
Neuroplasticity expert Ashok Gupta tells us about the symptoms of long Covid, how it affects the brain, and digital therapies

It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain. 

Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain. 

What is long Covid exactly? 

Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.

How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!

When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover. 

If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus. 

The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.

What symptoms does this cause? 

These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.

In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.

This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.

How does long-haul Covid affect mental health? 
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.

How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.” 

We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain. 

We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and  running half marathons again.

At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response. 

The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival. 

What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid? 
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy. 

What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and  become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.

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