Category: Hospitals

Lifespan tries to keep Partners out of RI. I’m quoted in the Boston Globe

published date
April 25th, 2019 by

Big bad Partners HealthCare plans to take over Rhode Island’s number two player, Care New England. Lifespan, the market leader is trying to keep Partners out by appealing to Rhode Islanders’ resentment of out-of-state players and claiming to have the public interest at heart.

“This is not about Lifespan,” [Lifespan’s CEO Dr. Timothy] Babineau said in an interview. “This is about the future of health care in Rhode Island.”

Actually, Lifespan seems to want to go from being the big fish in a small pond to the only fish, by merging with Care New England and Brown, in a so-called “unified” health system, which is just another word for monopoly.

I call them out in the Boston Globe (Lifespan says Partners takeover of Care New England would cost R.I.)

“Lifespan has correctly identified the threat to themselves — but the idea that that is a threat to the public interest is another matter,” said Williams, president of Health Business Group.

“It’s kind of an obvious move to attack a big company for being from out of state, and [saying] they’re going to hurt our local economy and drive up costs,” Williams said. “Really what’s happening is [Lifespan] would like to dominate Rhode Island and not have to worry about somebody else.”

PS –It’s kind of funny that the Boston Globe itself has announced its intention to penetrate Rhode Island with more coverage of local matters. Watch out Providence Journal!

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Interoperability in healthcare 2019: Podcast interview with Rhapsody

published date
March 19th, 2019 by

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Interoperability has a been a buzzword in healthcare for about a decade, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like we’ve gotten that far. In this podcast, Rhapsody’s EVP of Product & Strategy, Drew Ivan and I discuss interoperability: its past, present and future.

Here’s what we covered:

  • 0:20 What is interoperability anyway?
  • 2:50 Why do we hear about interoperability so much in healthcare? Is it an issues in other industries?
  • 5:11 How does interoperability in the US compare to the situation elsewhere?
  • 6:51 Does interoperability matter to patients?
  • 9:20 Has interoperability failed in the past? What new models are being tried?
  • 11:54 What’s the business model for interoperability?
  • 13:42 Are there any downsides? Does interoperability create any new problems?
  • 14:54 How will interoperability evolve in the coming year?

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Partners names interim CEO. I’m quoted in the Boston Globe

published date
February 26th, 2019 by

Partners HealthCare moved quickly to appoint Dr. Anne Klibanski as interim CEO after the resignation of Dr. David Torchiana. I was quoted in the Boston Globe story about it:

The Boston health care consultant David Williams said naming an interim CEO gives the board some time to conduct a thorough search for a permanent replacement.

“They have a history of taking a senior physician and making them CEO of Partners,’’ said Williams, the president of Health Business Group. “Now I think they’re not sure if they want to do that again or if they want to look more broadly for, say, a business person.”

Partners would be wise to thing long and hard about what kind of a person should lead the organization. It may also be time to confront some of the internal contradictions and misalignments within the system and to consider restructuring. That may await the next CEO.

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By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Partners opens lucrative outpatient clinics. I’m quoted in the Boston Globe

published date
December 10th, 2018 by

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An under-appreciated consequence of the BI-Lahey merger is that Partners now feels it can act with impunity. Until recently, Partners HealthCare dominated the Eastern Massachusetts market. As such it was the focus of government and public sector scrutiny and was somewhat constrained in its ability to act.

But now, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Clinic have received approval to consummate their merger. BI-Lahey and Partners are similar size, so now the pressure is off Partners to show restraint. In fact, it is taking the opportunity to catch up in some areas where’s it been lacking.

The Boston Globe (Partners HealthCare plans new outpatient clinics) documents one way Partners is taking advantage of the new market reality:

Partners chief financial officer Peter K. Markell said the merger didn’t trigger Partners’ plans to open new clinics. “I think we would have done it anyways — but it doesn’t hurt,” he said in an interview.

Partners and other hospital systems often charge facility fees at their outpatient locations.

“People like to talk about how big we are, but if you look at us geographically, we’re not well-rounded,” Markell said.

“We’re going to put a lot more focus on ambulatory growth,” he added.“That’s where we think the marketplace is going.”

I’m quoted in the middle of the article

“Partners is expanding in the most lucrative lines of business that they can — putting outpatient facilities in high-income suburbs,” said David E. Williams, president of the Boston consulting firm Health Business Group. “This is a very good way to make money. Previously, Partners might have faced more scrutiny for making these kinds of expansions, but now with BI-Lahey, they won’t get as much pushback as they might have gotten before.”

Partners is quite happy with the BI-Lahey merger. Those paying insurance premiums and healthcare bills are going to be a little less enthusiastic.


 

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Attorney General intervenes in Beth Israel-Lahey merger. I’m quoted in Boston Business Journal

published date
July 17th, 2018 by

A lot of people were surprised that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sent a letter last week to the Health Policy Commission, expressing concerns about the merger of Beth Israel Deaconess, Lahey Health, New England Baptist, Mount Auburn and Anna Jacques. Usually the AG would comment later if at all, but the letter throws the whole merger into doubt.

The Boston Business Journal interviewed me about the topic. Here’s what I said:

Health care expert David Williams said the attorney general’s early involvement could speed up the overall review, but may also mean that conditions imposed will have more teeth.

“Whenever the AG is involved it gets pretty legalistic and sometimes confrontational in a way that working with the HPC would not necessarily do,” said Williams, who works with Boston consulting firm Health Business Group. “I think what it means is that any terms and conditions that are agreed to as part of the merger are more likely to be enforceable if the AG is involved because they have more tools at their disposal.”

He said the attorney general’s early involvement reflected the concerns raised by competing hospital Tufts Medical Center and a community group that has ties to Steward Health Care.

“Presumably, the AG has heard from these organizations and decided to take their concerns seriously,” he said. “It’s likely she is trying to influence the terms of the merger in order to mitigate these issues.”

I also told the reporter that there were “eerie” similarities in the arguments made by this group and what Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s said way back when they formed Partners, e.g., that healthcare costs would drop as a result.


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.