The team at Seattle's Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is embarking on something of an experiment—cherry-picking quality-improvement tools from their two merging organizations. The goal is to bring quality levels up across all the hospitals now under the new brand.
The deal merging Virginia Mason and CHI Franciscan is a little over 100 days old, and healthcare players in Washington state and elsewhere are cautiously watching how they integrate operations.
Study after study have shown that after hospital mergers and acquisitions, service prices go up. And the limited assessments of impact to quality scores show that at best, things like mortality and readmissions stay level, but patient experience scores often decline.
Virginia Mason Franciscan Health will break the norm if they achieve the opposite.
Ketul Patel, one of two CEOs leading the new system, said they have an aligned vision of quality improvement. And Virginia Mason Franciscan's approach could also be applied to all its new parent company's hospitals; CommonSpirit Health, which formed in 2019 through the merger of Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives, owns more than 140 hospitals nationwide, including CHI Franciscan, which it purchased a few years ago.
"One of the reasons that Franciscan was really enamored with Virginia Mason was because of the quality, patient safety and patient experience outcomes," Patel said. "I've worked in many parts of the country, and always known about the reputation of Virginia Mason."