Baylor Scott & White Health and Memorial Hermann Health System are set to merge
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.
NHSX releases new data plans, experts call for transparency
Patients in England will get "greater control" over their health and care data according to new proposals set out by the government.
In a new draft strategy called "Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data", Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says that more effective use of data will deliver better patient-focused care. "This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position."
Under the new plans people will be able to access their medical records from different parts of the health system through different applications, to access test results, medication lists, procedures and care plans.
The strategy, published by NHSX, the government department that sets policies for the use of technology within the NHS, follows delays to the creation of a central database of patient records amid concerns over data sharing and a lack of transparency, with critics saying that only a small proportion of the public were made aware of the plans and the choice to opt out.
Kevin Curran, senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Ulster, says that moving health records online raises concerns. "The move to an online app does seem like a natural progression, however there is a difference between having computerised records within our healthcare IT infrastructure and having those records reside on a public facing server.
"Having records inhouse limits the range and type of access – it's far more difficult for remote hackers" Curran said. "There are techniques that healthcare organisations can use to reduce the risk of future data breaches. One way is to make it ‘opt in’, so patients have the choice to decide whether their medical information is moved to a public facing service so that they can access it.
"However, those who do not opt in or download the app instead should have their records hosted in a non-public-facing cloud service. This way, if a data breach does occur, those who never used the app, or not wanted to, will not have had their details released."
The new strategy has been welcomed by some, with an emphasis on the need for transparency. Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: "Health data has played a critical role in the last year – from tracking COVID-19 outbreaks and developing treatments, to getting people booked in for their vaccines. It is critical that the use of data is accelerated if the NHS is to tackle the backlog of care and address the massive health challenges facing the country.
"It is particularly positive that the government has committed to building analytical and data science capability in the NHS and to improving data on social care. To ensure the full potential of data can be realised, the government must ensure transparency on how it will be used and the rights and options people have, as well as engaging with the public and health care professionals to build trust and show people how their data can improve the NHS and save lives."