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October 25, 2011

Thompson Health, Medical Center study formal affiliation

Leaders at the Medical Center and Thompson Health are considering a formal affiliation. While both organizations emphasize that talks are still preliminary and any decision to affiliate is still months away, there is strong reason to believe that a closer relationship could help to improve access to high-quality, cost-effective services, leaders say.

For the last several weeks, representatives from both organizations have been meeting to explore the potential benefits of a closer affiliation. Specifically, the systems will weigh whether or not an affiliation could maximize the capabilities and resources of both systems, better preparing them for health care reform opportunities and shrinking reimbursement. While it’s too early to fully understand the specific benefits of such an affiliation, it could theoretically increase the systems’ abilities to provide more cost-effective services at Thompson that would, in turn, free up capacity at the Medical Center for patients with more complex needs. It is expected to take several months before each side will be able to make a recommendation to their respective boards and seek necessary regulatory approvals. 

“Thompson Health is blessed with a growing and supportive community, engaged medical staff and associates, and modern facilities. We have a solid track record of delivering high-quality care,” says Linda Farchione, CEO of Thompson Health. “There could be real advantages in linking with the Medical Center to complete our continuum of care and create a more seamless regional health system.”

Dozens of programs and services at Thompson within 14 medical and surgical specialties, including cardiology, neurosurgery, oncology, psychiatry, and more, are provided by Medical Center faculty physicians. An example of an existing partnership is Thompson’s Sands Cancer Center. Leaders say what’s now being considered is a closer relationship more akin to that which the Medical Center has with Highland Hospital.

“Through our relationship with Thompson Health, URMC already has a strong presence in the Canandaigua area so it makes sense to consider ways to make it work even better,” says Medical Center CEO Bradford Berk. “A formal affiliation could allow us to work more systematically with Thompson, its medical staff, and the community to make care more consistent, easing transitions for patients that move among our hospitals and doctors. We can also work together to identify community needs and services that should be expanded.”

Across the country, health systems are considering relationships that can help them drive down costs and improve quality. In addition, as medicine becomes more specialized, sub-specialty physicians need to serve larger populations to be financially viable. As payments to hospitals shrink and the cost of technology skyrockets, it’s becoming even more cost effective for community hospitals to work with academic medical centers to develop new approaches to delivering specialty care.

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