Brown, Lifespan, Care New England to create integrated academic health system

Lifespan and Care New England signed a definitive agreement to merge and create, with Brown and its Warren Alpert Medical School, an integrated academic health system, together for a healthier Rhode Island — Brown invests $125 million in support.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — For years, Rhode Island leaders have discussed a vision for a world-class integrated academic health system that serves the people of Rhode Island by ensuring excellence in health care from birth to end-of-life, including specialty care, in their home state.

With recently signed agreements to create such an integrated system — with a merger of the state’s two largest health care systems, Lifespan and Care New England, and a partnership with Brown University and its Warren Alpert Medical School — that vision is closer to becoming a reality.

With co-investment from Lifespan, Care New England and Brown University, the new system will bring together the state’s premier teaching hospitals — Lifespan’s Rhode Island, Miriam, Hasbro, Newport and Bradley hospitals, and Care New England’s Women & Infants, Kent, and Butler hospitals — with Brown’s leading research and medical education from the Warren Alpert Medical School. The result will be an integrated academic health system that has the full array of complementary medical specialties required for excellence in health care, biomedical research to remain on the leading edge of treatment and therapies, and the collaboration required to enable medical practitioners to effectively and efficiently provide health care to the community.

Brown President Christina H. Paxson said the University has a long record of working in partnership with local health care systems toward the creation of a system that will improve the quality of care for all patients across Rhode Island and the greater region.

“We’re committed to creating an integrated health system that increases access to excellent health care and by doing so, reduces health disparities,” Paxson said. “Great health care should be accessible to everyone, including people from communities that historically have experienced obstacles to accessing health care. The seamless integration of research and clinical care drives improvements in the health of patients by offering all Rhode Islanders access to state-of-the-art medicine.”

Brown has committed to provide a minimum of $125 million over five years in support of the development of the integrated academic health system with Lifespan and Care New England. Brown will participate on the governing board of the newly merged health system and play a key role in integrating medical education and research with clinical practice across the combined system’s hospitals.

“Brown is excited to invest $125 million over five years to bring together the medical expertise and capacity needed to create exactly the kind of integrated academic health system that has provided such dramatic success in health care, medical education and biomedical innovation for other regions across the country,” said Samuel Mencoff, chancellor of the Corporation of Brown University.

Unique to this business merger, its leaders said, is the intense involvement of Brown as a higher education institution committed to education and research.

“Combining health system operations with leading-edge research and renowned medical expertise will improve the quality of medical care for patients across Rhode Island and surrounding regions,” said Charles Reppucci, chairman of Care New England’s board of directors. “The uniting of health care with medical education and research serves to advance biomedical discovery, educate future physicians, nurses and health practitioners in medicine and health care, and create a vibrant economic nexus in the region based on the health care industry.”

Leaders emphasized that the merger offers a unique and valuable opportunity to bring together the expertise and capacity of three organizations to offer excellent, coordinated care to patients.

"If you learned from your doctor the devastating news that you had cancer, you want to go to a place that maximizes your chances of having a great outcome. You want to go to a place where you have the best care you can get from a diagnostic and therapeutic perspective — a place that does cancer research, but that also has the latest in protocol-driven therapies so you can be with your family for many years to come. And this is the difference that a unified academic medical center can make in patient lives. This is real.”

Dr. Jack A. Elias Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences, the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
 
Jack Elias

“It is gratifying to finally realize the vision of an integrated academic health system with Lifespan, Care New England and Brown University,” said Lawrence A. Aubin, Sr., Lifespan board of directors chairman. “Together, we are better able to serve as an economic engine for the state. The health sector in any region is a source of good paying jobs, not only within the hospital systems, but the businesses created and driven by goods and services that hospitals purchase. We want to be sure that these remain strong for many decades to come.”

The creation of an integrated academic health system will maximize the ability to capitalize on Brown, Lifespan and Care New England’s complementary strengths, strategically build research capacity in new areas, coordinate effectively with other local institutions and create new industry partnerships that bring employment and economic growth to the region.

“What I am most excited about is the ability of our new, locally based, academic health system to compete at a national level, innovate, attract top talent, develop new scientific knowledge, improve the care we deliver and serve as an economic engine for Providence and the state,” said Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, Lifespan president and CEO. “This is an exciting moment in time; we cannot let it slip through our grasp yet again.”

The benefits of the multi-institution collaboration can be transformational for the Rhode Island community, the system’s leaders said.

Leaders from Brown, Lifespan and Care New England
Leaders from Brown, Lifespan and Care New England met on Tuesday, Feb. 23, to sign a definitive agreement to create a new integrated academic health system. Pictured in the front row, left to right: Charles Reppucci, chairman of the Care New England Board of Directors; Lawrence A. Aubin Sr., chairman of the Lifespan Board of Directors; and Samuel Mencoff, chancellor of the Corporation of Brown University. Back row, left to right: Dr. James E. Fanale, Care New England president and CEO; Dr. Jack A. Elias, senior vice president for health affairs and dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown University; Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, Lifespan president and CEO; and Christina H. Paxson, Brown president. Photo: Lifespan/Bill Murphy.

“The positive reaction that we’ve seen, really across the board, to the creation of this new system has been outstanding. Our partners across the region, especially our internal colleagues and physicians, really support this because it’s a very exciting proposition. Creating something new and visionary, but with concrete goals and true work plans, sets the integrated AHS up to achieve high quality care with local access for the people that we serve. It is something to be proud of,” said Dr. James E. Fanale, Care New England president and CEO.

A key benefit of creating an academic health system is that it allows for the integration of medical innovation and world-class research to inform clinical care in such areas as cancer, women’s health and brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and ALS. Brown has deep expertise in all of these areas, and more.

“If you learned from your doctor the devastating news that you had cancer, you want to go to a place that maximizes your chances of a having a great outcome,” said Dr. Jack A. Elias, dean of the Warren Alpert Medical School as Brown’s senior vice president for health affairs and dean of medicine and biological sciences. “You want to go to a place where you have the best care you can get from a diagnostic and therapeutic perspective — a place that does cancer research, but that also has the latest in protocol-driven therapies so you can be with your family for many years to come. And, this is the difference that an integrated academic health system can make in patient lives. This is real.”

Improved quality of care and an economic engine

This integrated academic health system will benefit the community in many additional ways, the systems leaders said in announcing the merger. The system will:

  • Play a major role in providing patients with the best possible individualized and integrated care from world-class physicians who are attracted to Rhode Island by the vibrant academic environment.
  • Address many of the underlying chronic health conditions of Rhode Island residents, including cancer, heart disease, neurological problems, children’s diseases and conditions, behavioral health/substance misuse, women’s health, and obesity.
  • Improve population health and reduce health disparities in Rhode Island while reducing costs by using innovative “big data”-informed strategies that have been developed and tested by leading researchers at Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School and School of Public Health.
  • Collaborate with payers, including the state government, to develop ways to prevent deadly and costly diseases by reducing smoking, obesity, substance abuse, exposure to environmental toxins and more.
  • With the participation of clinicians, public health practitioners and researchers, encourage healthy environments in Rhode Island communities that lead to reductions in racial and ethnic disparities in health.
  • Continue to educate cohorts of outstanding future physicians and public health practitioners, many of whom live and work in the region after graduation.
  • Serve as an economic engine that attracts federal research funding, generates biomedical innovation, attracts and retains talent, attracts and creates new companies and collaborates with other Rhode Island academic, civic, and business organizations.

The merger requires state and federal approvals, which are underway. Lifespan, Care New England and Brown anticipate the regulatory approval process will take several months. A new website, www.HealthierRI.com, has been developed to provide information about the integrated academic health system.

About the partners

Lifespan is a nationally respected health care system that is known for patient-centered care, from primary care to advanced specialty care in neurology, cardiology, orthopedics, pediatrics, cancer and more.

Care New England is a health care system that has nationally recognized expertise in family medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, neonatology and adult psychiatry and has made major investments in population health management.

Brown is a university with the leading Warren Alpert Medical School and Brown School of Public Health, engaged in research and education in areas ranging from aging to brain science, to respiratory medicine, to bioinformatics and big data, to child health and development, to the effective delivery of health care services.

Lifespan, Care New England and Brown are not-for-profit organizations that share a commitment to serving the public good. In the case of Lifespan and Care New England, the core mission is to protect and improve the health of the communities they serve. In the case of Brown, and specifically the Warren Alpert Medical School and Brown School of Public Health, the mission is to improve health and health care through education, research and biomedical discovery.