3 Pennsylvania health systems just teamed up in Greater Philadelphia

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Penn Medicine, Mercy Health and St. Mary are the latest systems to choose to expand healthcare options for their communities through collaboration rather than a merger. (Pixabay)

The University of Pennsylvania Health System is teaming up with two Trinity Health hospitals to expand access to care and develop clinical programs in cancer care, cardiology and surgical services in Greater Philadelphia.

Patients at Mercy and St. Mary are also expected to see improved access to tertiary and quaternary care, officials said in an announcement about the deal to create a new alliance.

For Penn Medicine, the alliance offers a chance to extend more routine care closer to patients’ homes while retaining the opportunity to use Penn Medicine for the complex and specialty care, said Ralph W. Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

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“We are excited to work with these new partners to develop innovative public health programs and initiatives that will offer patients continued access to high-quality care close to home, as well as advanced care at Penn Medicine hospitals when needed,” he said.

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James Woodward, president and CEO of St. Mary Medical Center pointed to the addition of new surgical subspecialties in cancer care, the joint expansion of ambulatory services in Bucks County located just outside Philadelphia, and the addition of new programs such as behavioral health and substance abuse treatment. 

"Both St. Mary and Penn will be able to expand access to high-quality care provided at lower cost to the region,” he said.

RELATED: Catholic health giant Ascension retools its care delivery strategy

Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

The agreement allows Mercy and St. Mary to continue to be part of Trinity Health, the nation’s second-largest Catholic healthcare system, which is based in Livonia, Michigan.

It also adds another data point to a recent trend which has seen providers eschewing mergers in favor of collaborative efforts. For example, Ascension Health recently walked away from a proposed merger with Providence St. Joseph Health in favor of a strategic overhaul seeking lower-cost ways to manage the increased risk hospital systems are required to take on due to the industry’s shift toward value-based payment models.