Partners HealthCare, Care New England and Brown University negotiate partnership to strengthen health care

Partners-Care New England affiliation will support Brown-led academics and teaching and bring new economic development, research opportunities to Rhode Island.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Partners HealthCare, Care New England Health System and Brown University have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize a joint commitment to providing the highest quality of patient care, physician training and biomedical innovation to Rhode Island.

The MOU signed by the three organizations follows the announcement in May of a definitive agreement formalizing Partners’ planned acquisition of CNE, and aligns the shared vision of all three organizations to benefit the communities of Rhode Island. It establishes Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School as the primary academic research and teaching institution of record for Partners-CNE in Rhode Island.

The memorandum details the terms for negotiating a formal agreement in the coming weeks.

“Today’s announcement represents an important step in this collaborative effort between our institutions and our collective commitment to strengthening the health care landscape in Rhode Island and for the advancement of academic training,” said Care New England President and CEO James E. Fanale, MD. “This signifies tremendous opportunity for research, the economy, and most importantly, for those who rely on us for the best possible care.”

Brown has a longtime academic medical affiliation with CNE, which is home to Brown’s programs in obstetrics and gynecology and neonatology (at Women & Infants); in psychiatry (at Butler); and in family medicine (Kent).

Following Partners’ proposed acquisition of CNE, the three partners are committed to deepening their collaboration through a clinical, medical education and biomedical research affiliation.

“This agreement sets us on a clear path for achieving Brown’s goals of a partnership that will enhance the quality of clinical care, generate biomedical research that improves population health and fuel economic development in Rhode Island,” Brown President Christina Paxson said.

The Partners-CNE-Brown MOU outlines a framework for a Rhode-Island based academic medical center that will drive new innovation, with the Partners affiliation helping to further position the health system to compete for research grants at a national level.

“The addition of Brown University will strengthen an already robust Rhode Island health care ecosystem and provide opportunities for new investments in patient care, research and health care innovation,” said Betsy Nabel, MD., President of Brigham Health, on behalf of Partners.

Other objectives of the new partnership include maintaining and enhancing the quality of medical education for medical students at existing and future CNE clinical facilities; evaluating ways to strengthen the relationship between CNE physicians and physicians in Brown-affiliated faculty practice groups; exploring the potential for a new medical research institute in Providence and shared governance to support the goals of the partnership.

As part of the MOU, Brown’s president would be added to the CNE Board of Directors, and the dean of the Warren Alpert Medical School would sit on any academic and research subcommittees of that board.

The shared governance would support Partners, CNE and Brown’s shared commitment to helping ensure that high-quality, affordable care remains available through the CNE institutions for the people of Rhode Island.

The goals of the affiliation announced by Partners and CNE in May include building on the existing clinical relationships between the parties; ensuring ongoing clinical research and educational collaboration in support of the parties’ charitable missions; enabling the organizations to more efficiently use their resources; and establishing effective and expanded approaches to population health management.

The agreement followed extensive due diligence, internal reviews and collaborative discussions between the two health care systems. Both organizations are working together to prepare and file all necessary Rhode Island, Massachusetts and federal regulatory filings, and, upon approval, move forward on Partners’ integration of CNE.

With the signing of the definitive agreement, Partners and CNE will continue discussions with Lifespan. Partners and CNE invited Lifespan to the affiliation conversations earlier this year because the parties share a mutual desire to improve access, quality and efficiency of care for all Rhode Islanders. Brown has a longstanding affiliation with Lifespan.


Partners HealthCare is an integrated health system founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to its two academic medical centers, the Partners system includes community and specialty hospitals, community health centers, a physician network, a managed care organization, home health and long-term care services, and other health-related entities. Partners is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations and a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Partners HealthCare is a non-profit organization.

Care New England Health System is a trusted organization that fuels the latest advances in medical research, attracts the nation’s top specialty-trained doctors, hones renowned services and innovative programs, and engages in the important discussions people need to have about their health and end-of-life wishes. Care New England is helping to transform the future of health care, providing a leading voice in the ongoing effort to ensure the health of the individuals and communities we serve. CNE was founded in 1996, and today it is the parent organization of Butler Hospital, Kent Hospital, Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, the VNA of Care New England, The Providence Center, and Integra, a certified accountable care organization (ACO) created in collaboration with the Rhode Island Primary Care Physicians Corporation. Through Butler, Kent, and Women & Infants, Care New England has a teaching and research affiliation with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Kent Hospital also has an affiliation with the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School has become a national leader in medical education and biomedical research since granting its first Doctor of Medicine degrees in 1975. By attracting first-class physicians and researchers to Rhode Island over the past three decades, the Medical School and its seven affiliated teaching hospitals have radically improved the state's health care environment, from health care policy to patient care. Currently, 43 percent of physicians in Rhode Island are affiliated with the Medical School. They conduct research at the leading edges of their fields, giving Rhode Islanders access to cutting-edge care without having to leave the state.