Lifespan in merger talks with Partners, Care New England

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Partners, Care New England and Lifespan, said that “by combining the talent, experience and resources of our liked-minded, provider-based organizations, we envision creating a national model that fully leverages the integration and coordination of care.” (Pixabay/geralt)

The proposed mega-merger between Partners HealthCare and Care New England may get a lot bigger.

The two systems announced Tuesday that they have approached Lifespan—the largest hospital system in Rhode Island—and will begin a “formal discussion” to explore how all three healthcare providers can work together to strengthen patient care delivery in the Ocean State.

RELATED: Partners, Care New England move ahead with merger plans

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Partners, the largest healthcare system in Massachusetts, and Care New England, the second largest health system in Rhode Island, have been exploring a potential merger since April 2017 and last month announced plans to enter a a definitive agreement. The tentative plans call for Partners to acquire Kent Hospital in Warwick; Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island in Providence; the VNA of Care New England, based in Warwick; Butler Hospital in Providence; and The Providence Center in several Rhode Island locations.

Lifespan is a non-profit integrated academic health system affiliated with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. It also has partnerships with Rhode Island Hospital's pediatric division, Hasbro Children's Hospital; Bradley Hospital; Newport Hospital; and Gateway Healthcare.  

The announcement doesn’t use the word merger, but states that “by combining the talent, experience and resources of our liked-minded, provider-based organizations, we envision creating a national model that fully leverages the integration and coordination of care.”

The collaboration will allow the three organizations to be “better equipped to meet market challenges and mandates to improve outcomes while reducing healthcare costs,” according to the statement.

Timothy J. Babineau, M.D., CEO of Lifespan, said in a statement to the Providence Journal, that he was excited about what the collaboration could mean for the system’s patients, its mission and Rhode Island regional healthcare delivery.

“Lifespan has always been interested in partnering with like-minded, superb organizations, and I look forward to the discussions and the potential to continually improve the seamless and coordinated care we deliver to our patients,” he said in the statement.

Brown University President Christina Paxson, who was interested in pursuing an alternate deal with Care New England if its plans with Partners fell through, told the newspaper in an emailed statement that the university was encouraged that Care New England are in talks about the future of healthcare in Rhode Island. “We hope to be included in these discussions,” she said. “We have advocated for this kind of within-state dialogue for years.”

However, she said the university has lingering concerns about the impact of the Partners-Care New England merger, and now a possible business relationship with Lifespan, will have on costs and access to healthcare.