Clinical integration and the Baylor Scott & White Health merger

one year old

This is one in a series of blog posts marking the one-year anniversary of the merger of Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Health.

Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH) executives say the 2013 merger was more about clinical integration than finances.

The system’s clinical leaders say the pieces fit together almost seamlessly.

Robert Pryor, MD, former Scott & White Health (SWH) CEO and now president, chief operating officer and chief medical officer, said he was confident about clinical integration because physicians from both systems had worked together on projects prior to the merger.

“Clinical excellence is what motivates doctors,” Dr. Pryor said. “The merger created opportunities for Scott & White doctors. They realize the merger augments their ability to practice medicine. I thought the toughest meeting I was going to have was with (SWH) emeritus physicians. I explained where we were going. There was no dissent. They were all for it.”

LaVone Arthur, BSWH chief integration officer, said, “There should be a financial benefit (to merging), but then there are other qualitative synergies that we’re also focused on and developing, including improvements in overall quality, access and patient safety.”

Irving Prengler, MD, chief medical officer for the North Texas division, said, “When people talk about synergies, they often talk about them in financial terms. Synergies are about influence. I thought clinical integration would be slower. However, doctors and nurses have worked closely early on from day one.”

Glen Couchman, MD, chief medical officer for the Central Texas division, agreed.

“Integration developed more rapidly than we thought on the clinical side. There have been opportunities to share in education and research. All of those things built more trust,” he said.

Couchman said the cultural concept of stewardship was new for SWH.

“Servanthood is very natural. We never called out stewardship, but we were always doing that. It was an easy transition,” he said.

Rosemary Luquire, chief nursing executive for the North Texas division, said integration for the system’s 9,700 nurses is still a work in progress.

“We’re working on cultural fit and alignment, but we don’t want to squelch innovation,” Luquire said. “It takes a while to come together, but it is looking very good at this point.”

About the author

Steve Jacob
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Steve is a senior marketing and public relations consultant for Baylor Scott & White Health. He spent nearly four decades in newspaper and magazine editorial and business management and is the author of two books on healthcare reform. He was also the founding editor of D Magazine's D Healthcare Daily.

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Clinical integration and the Baylor Scott & White Health merger