Our Take: Froedtert Health signs LOI to merge with ThedaCare to help Wisconsinites ‘live their unique, best lives’
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Milwaukee-based Froedtert Health signed a letter of intent to merge with ThedaCare, a community health system based in Neenah, Wisc., the two organizations announced Tuesday.
ThedaCare has eight hospitals among more than 180 sites of care in communities throughout northeast and central Wisconsin.
The two organizations began partnering with each other last year on a pair of initiatives designed to increase access to care, one of which is a quaternary partnership that includes the Medical College or Wisconsin. The planned merger will build on those relationships.
Cathy Jacobson, Froedtert’s president and CEO, said the combined organization “will be poised to meaningfully address health equity and disparities, enhance access to a broader array of services and make it easier for patients to navigate the health care system. The Medical College of Wisconsin will continue to be an important partner in our work together.”
“We have a shared vision for what we can do together to improve the health and well-being of the communities and be proactive partners in health,” said Dr. Imran Andrabi, president and CEO of ThedaCare. “We are eager to start exploring how we can build a healthier, brighter future for Wisconsin.”
An 18-member board comprising representatives from both organizations will govern the combined entity. Initially, Jacobson will serve as CEO of the merged health system and Dr. Andrabi will serve as president. The plan is for Jacobson to retire six months after the merged health system launches and for Dr. Andrabi to take on the additional role of CEO.
The existing organizations will continue to use their brand names in some manner after the merger, according to the announcement, though the combined health system itself may have a new name. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Our Take: Although many, if not most, health system mergers in the last several years have resulted from the need to shore up the financial resources of at least one of the organizations involved — especially among the relatively smaller health systems — that does not appear to be the primary focus of this one.
During a press conference on Tuesday, as she was talking about how the two organizations began working together last fall, Froedtert CEO Jacobson said, “We found out just how easy it was to come together and create those partnerships because of how aligned we really were. And [the merger] just became a natural next step,” Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
“We don’t need to do this,” she said. “We want to do this because we think it’s going to make us better.”
Jacobson believes each of the organizations can benefit from the other’s experience within their respective communities.
“We can apply some of those same learnings about how you reach different areas in urban Milwaukee as you do in rural Wisconsin. … It’s not the same to treat someone in urban Milwaukee as it is to treat someone in Brookfield, Wis., and we know that,” she said, according to Spectrum News 1. “We go into those communities. We talk to people in those communities … about what are the challenges about how you access health care?”
In their announcement, the health systems said the combined organization “will help the people of Wisconsin live their unique, best lives, providing better and more seamless access to comprehensive, high-quality care when people are sick or injured and serving as a true partner in health to help keep people well.”
In theory, this should be the ultimate goal of all health system mergers.
Welcome to Season 8 of Health Care Rounds! We are excited to bring you new conversations with health care leaders who are at the forefront of care innovation. In this episode, we sit down with the president and CEO of Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, NE, Chanda Chacon, to discuss the importance of intentional leadership, story-telling, and finding your ‘why’. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.
What else you need to know
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An Interview with ChatGPT About Health Care. NEJM Catalyst, 4.4.23