Notably, the healthcare leaders did not specifically suggest AMCs merge with or acquire other systems, although they did acknowledge that refusing to entertain those options would come at an academic system's own peril. Rather, AMCs must turn their attention to becoming population health centers, which requires partnering with other community providers and groups to improve care quality and lower its cost, they wrote.
Modern Healthcare explored consolidation among academic medical centers earlier this summer, after Arizona's only full-fledged academic medical center, University of Arizona Health Network in Tucson, decided to merge with Phoenix-based Banner Health. Indeed, the UAHN-Banner deal represented a rare example of an AMC fully merging with another health system. Population health was a factor behind the merger, as it is with many other potential AMC deals in the works.
“We see capabilities that (the University of Arizona) has and can deliver for the direction that Banner is going—into a population health management company,” Banner's CEO Peter Fine said at the time.
The authors argued, though, that AMCs should be more proactive in creating population-health networks, rather than waiting for more advanced systems to come along and provide the capital.
Additionally, the IOM authors said AMCs must look outside the provider arena, especially for research partnerships, as their systems grapple with fewer dollars from the National Institutes of Health. But the suggestion is somewhat controversial: Strike more deals with commercial interests like big pharmaceutical companies or biotechnology firms that will sponsor clinical research. The potential conflicts of interest present challenges for academic medicine, but the authors maintained those avenues need to be kept open.
“(Academic health systems) not only must work to partner with philanthropic organizations, employers, payers and other stakeholders who share an interest in the value generated by our work, but we must also seek new, innovative partnerships with the information technology sector for novel approaches, with the prospect of redesigning the clinical research paradigm,” they wrote.
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