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Integrated healthcare system will increase economic impact of RI’s academic medicine sector, analysis finds

PROVIDENCE, RI [Brown University] – As Brown University and Rhode Island’s two largest nonprofit healthcare systems continue to work towards an integrated university healthcare system, independent analysis commissioned by Brown concludes that closer systems integration health care, physician practices and research can create significant economic and societal gains for communities across Rhode Island.

The analysis, released by consultancy firm Tripp Umbach on Tuesday, January 11, found that the proposed merger of Lifespan and Care New England healthcare systems may strengthen affiliation with medical, public health and engineering schools. de Brown to establish an academic medical center that serves the area.

The report, “Transforming Rhode Island’s Biomedical Economy: Economic Benefits Resulting from a Transformational Partnership between Brown University, Lifespan Health System and Care New England,” explains how the bringing together of cutting-edge research, clinical practice and teaching hospitals can bring billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to Rhode Island by 2035.

Brown and Health Systems signed agreements in February 2021 to create an integrated university health system, with Brown committing to provide a minimum of $ 125 million over five years to support its development.

The report’s release comes as the Lifespan and Care New England merger applications are currently under review with federal regulators and the Rhode Island Attorney General, with opinions due by March 2022. Fine that Brown was not a direct party to the merger, the proposed system would bring together the state’s major teaching hospitals – Lifespan’s Rhode Island, Miriam, Hasbro and Bradley hospitals, and Care New England’s Women & Infants, Kent and Butler hospitals. – with Brown and his main centers for medical research and education at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine.

“We hired Tripp Umbach because we know that one of the lingering questions about Care New England and Lifespan’s proposed merger and affiliation with Brown concerns its potential economic impact,” said Paxson. “It was important to have an independent and objective assessment of the financial benefits of combining Rhode Island’s largest healthcare systems.”

Tripp Umbach’s assessment found that Rhode Island lags behind its peers in the size of the academic medicine industry, defined by the total economic impact of higher education, healthcare health and biomedical industry. Even without the benefits of a fully integrated academic medical center, Brown’s medicine, public health, and biomedical engineering programs compare favorably in economic impact to peer-market medical schools.

According to the report, the lack of integration with Brown and affiliated teaching hospitals in the two health systems restricts economic development in Rhode Island, as teaching hospitals produce a lower-than-average economic impact compared to their Connecticut peers. from Massachusetts and New York.

The main findings of the report include:

  • Rhode Island currently lags behind neighboring states in terms of impact on the academic medicine industry, ranking last among peer metropolitan areas in terms of biomedical economic impact.
  • Brown University has the greatest economic impact among independent medical schools in the United States and is comparable to medical schools in peer markets, but the state’s major teaching hospitals have a lower economic impact than in peer markets. .
  • The creation of an integrated academic medical center can dramatically increase the economic impact of the academic medicine sector in Rhode Island, from $ 8.2 billion in 2020 to $ 11.5 billion by 2035.
  • Creating an integrated academic medical center can dramatically increase biomedical economic development in Rhode Island and create an estimated 10,000 new, well-paying jobs by 2035.
  • The current bifurcation of Lifespan and Care New England compromises the quality of patient care, as the need to operate on two systems makes it difficult to provide effective and efficient clinical care.
  • Through closer collaboration with payers, including the state government, an integrated academic health center with the state’s two largest health systems and Brown University can focus resources in medicine and public health on developing ways to prevent costly disease by reducing smoking, obesity, drug addiction, exposure to environmental toxins, and more.

According to the report, the majority of well-paying jobs resulting from increased economic development will be in the private sector. These will result from the growth of the biomedical industry resulting from the commercialization of research.

“The report’s finding that we have the potential to add billions of dollars to strengthen Rhode Island’s biomedical economy clearly strengthens the case for creating an integrated system that brings together research, education medical and teaching hospitals, ”Paxson said. “Brown remains committed to providing significant financial support to ensure its success for the people of our state and region. “

During a panel discussion last month on the proposed integrated university health system, Paxson noted that bringing together a cohesive organization could reduce inefficiencies in a way that benefits the people of Rhode Island while allowing for more research agendas. sophisticated technologies that impact the health of patients and have the potential to improve the health of the state’s economy. Paxson, an economist and public health specialist, also acknowledged questions about the economics of a larger system – a key factor behind the decision to commission an independent analysis.

Beyond the economic benefits, leaders at the University and Care New England and Lifespan say the system would ensure excellent health care from birth to end of life, offer a full range of complementary medical specialties , reduce disparities in health care and build on Brown’s leading medical research and education programs. Brown would sit on the board of directors of the newly merged healthcare system and play a key role in integrating medical education and research into clinical practice at hospitals in the combined system.

Learn more about the report’s findings

Tripp Umbach’s analysis found that stronger health systems integration with Brown can accelerate a stronger biomedical economy in Rhode Island.

According to Paul Umbach, founder and president of Tripp Umbach and author of the report: “An integrated academic medical center in Rhode Island could combine cutting-edge research and renowned medical expertise at Brown University and established teaching hospitals to improve the quality of care in Rhode Island, advancing biomedical discovery and creating a dynamic engine for the state’s economy.

Not only can the merger create the scale needed, but it will eliminate the danger to the state’s economy if one or both of the health systems amalgamated with other regional systems outside of Rhode Island. According to the report, an out-of-state purchase of Rhode Island-based hospitals would have the detrimental effect of accelerating the movement of high-quality specialist care out of state, taking care further away from communities. and increase costs for Rhode Island families. . Umbach added that “losing local control of one or both health care systems would negatively impact Rhode Island’s economy as patients and their health care costs move to other states.”

The analysis indicates that a stronger integration of health systems with Brown University can accelerate a stronger biomedical economy in Rhode Island. The development of an integrated academic medical center in Rhode Island can serve as a magnet for out-of-state patients while keeping Rhode Islanders in the state for care.

According to the report, a merger of Rhode Island’s largest healthcare systems can improve the health of the population in Rhode Island while reducing costs by using innovative “big data” -based strategies developed and tested by researchers leading edge of Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School and the School of Public Health. . The close collaboration between the new integrated system and payers can focus resources on both medical discovery and disease prevention.

If approached with a common vision of improving community health, hospital mergers can result in patient benefits in the form of better care and lower costs, according to the American Hospital Association. Tripp Umbach’s experience in more than 500 markets across the United States indicates that mergers allow competing hospitals to create networks of connected care and focus where it belongs: on improving care for the patient. patient and better community health outcomes.

The report concludes that the current bifurcation of Lifespan and Care New England makes it difficult to provide effective and efficient clinical care to patients, as the quality of care is compromised by the need to operate in two systems. In addition, the significant duplication of administrative and back-office support between the two systems results in increased operating costs for healthcare. The report recommended merging systems to improve high-quality, low-cost, coordinated care between primary care providers, specialists and hospitals for the benefit of consumers.

Brown selected Tripp Umbach for his work spanning more than three decades in research, feasibility analysis, planning, and economic analysis in the academic medicine industry. The firm has conducted community health needs assessments in more than 500 communities in all regions of the United States and has been involved in the development of 30 new medical schools. Data and analysis generated from Tripp Umbach’s studies with over 100 academic medical centers were used to provide estimates included in the report.