Gary Kaplan, MD, and Ketul Patel on – Health News Today

Emily Boerger | Aug 12, 2020

On Monday, Gary Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle, and Ketul Patel, CEO of CHI Franciscan, joined State of Reform for a conversation as part of our new “Leadership Series.” The two leaders discussed the recent news that Virginia Mason and CHI Franciscan have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding to explore forming a joint operating company after years of working in a strategic partnership.


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State of Reform President DJ Wilson kicked off the conversation by asking Patel and Kaplan how this potential merger came to be.

“The last few years,” said Patel in response, “really gave us an opportunity to get to learn from each other and get to learn from each other’s organizations. Because outside of one radiation oncology relationship, we just didn’t have a long-standing history, if you will, between the two organizations. I think we got to this place because we’ve had a lot of great people leading the way for us internally and establishing priorities for us, including our boards. As we got to know each other more, we definitely realized that we’re speaking the same language in a variety of different ways. It was always centered around the patient; it was always centered around quality; it’s always centered around patient experience. We are both learning organizations and we’ll continue to do so. That’s why we came together to make the announcement we did a few weeks ago.”

Kaplan also stressed the importance of finding a partner with the same values and outlined the organizations’ vision for the new health system.

“We came together with a partner that wanted, with us, to explore what we’ve long believed, and that is: the path to higher quality, safer, better patient experience care is also the same path to lower cost. So, here’s a coming together of two significant organizations in this market that can, I think, improve the quality of care available to the people in our region, provide more access points and ways to enter our combined system, and in so doing bend that cost curve and reduce the total cost of care,” said Kaplan.

One of the top questions posed by audience participants during the conversation was if VM will continue to provide female reproductive services and Death with Dignity care even though CHI Franciscan is a Catholic health care system.

Kaplan says he anticipates VM will continue to offer most of the services previously provided, but they likely will no longer do pregnancy terminations or Death with Dignity.

We cover Kaplan’s remarks on the subject in detail here.

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