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Partners HealthCare again expands northward

New regional network would include Exeter Health Resources and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in New Hampshire as a subsidiary of Massachusetts General.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, already in the Partners network, is among the hospitals interested in the regional non-profit subsidiary of Mass General. Credit: Google MapsWentworth-Douglass Hospital, already in the Partners network, is among the hospitals interested in the regional non-profit subsidiary of Mass General. Credit: Google Maps

Partners HealthCare in Massachusetts is again expanding into New Hampshire with the announcement last week that it is exploring a regional network that includes Exeter Health Resources.

Exeter Health Resources in Exeter, New Hampshire includes the not-for-profit Exeter Hospital, Core Physicians and Rockingham Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice.

Exeter Health, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in New Hampshire, which joined the Partners network last year, and Massachusetts General Hospital, have signed a letter of intent to form a regional non-profit corporation that will be a subsidiary of Mass General.

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Since being formed by Mass General and Brigham and Women's Hospital in 1994, Partners has grown to include at least a dozen hospitals and medical facilities to become one of the largest health systems in Massachusetts.

It is looking northward across the border to include the new regional network and has potential access to four other New Hampshire hospitals associated with Benevera Health, which is part of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Benevera Health is a data and analytics company that has within its network the large academic medical center Dartmouth-Hitchcock in New Hampshire, and also the Elliot Health System, Frisbie Memorial and St. Joseph Hospital in that state. Earlier this month, Partners confirmed it was in talks with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care to find a way to work together. While Partners is already affiliated with the Neighborhood Health Plan, the collaboration would create one of the largest, integrated provider and payer networks in the region.

Partners has made no official announcement on Harvard Pilgrim or how or if the new regional network would align with the model, but Benevara's population health analytics fit its announced goal of having the Mass General subsidiary grow clinical programs and services while providing cost-effective care.

Since joining Mass General, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital has begun implementation of a new electronic medical record system and business support applications, according to Partners.

In addition, the two organizations have collaborated on clinical program development, adding new specialized programs in epilepsy treatment, congestive heart failure, and electrophysiology.

"When we joined Mass General, our vision was to bring greater access to the highest-quality clinical care in the region; to develop the most qualified and capable physician network supported by the most sophisticated technology and advanced health records systems – and to continue to deliver care locally," said Greg Walker, president and CEO of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.

Kevin Callahan, president and CEO of Exeter Health Resources said, "We believe that through the creation of a new integrated regional healthcare network, Exeter Health Resources, Inc. and its affiliates, Exeter Hospital, Inc., Core Physicians, LLC and Rockingham VNA & Hospice cannot only advance their collective mission of improving the health of the community through the provision of high quality healthcare services, but also position our organization to thrive in the future."

Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of Mass General said, "For more than a decade, we have enjoyed a successful clinical affiliation with Exeter Health Resources and last year we were honored to expand our relationship with Wentworth-Douglass. We look forward to future discussions to explore how – together – we can focus on enhancing care and extending access, availability of services, and slowing the rate of rising health care costs."

The parties are expected to work together to negotiate and develop a definitive agreement which will be subject to review by state and federal regulatory agencies. The process is expected to take 15–18 months and will include community forums for public participation.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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