Dr. Howard Grant, president of Lahey in Burlington, recently proposed that the two institutions join forces -- though both sides said the discussions are preliminary.
Grant declined to comment to the Globe, but hospital spokesman Scott Hartman confirmed that "a draft document was shared with the BID to start a conversation."
Grant's vision, according to a hospital source, is to form a parent corporation with its own chief executive to oversee a fully integrated health care system that includes the two teaching hospitals as well as a half-dozen community hospitals.
Hartman downplayed the proposal, saying that Grant is "talking to everybody. Dr. Grant has talked to almost every single teaching hospital in the state and talked to the majority of hospitals in our service area."
Beth Israel Deaconess spokesman Jerry Berger echoed those remarks. "We talk to lots of people about lots of things in this economy and climate and with the changes in health care," he said.
Beth Israel Deaconess is in the middle of a search for a permanent replacement for former chief executive Paul Levy.
And, if the two sides move forward, it's unclear what would happen to their competing proposals to merge with or buy Northeast Health System in Beverly. Four hospital networks have made firm offers to Northeast, including Lahey, Beth Israel Deaconess, Steward Health Care System, and Vanguard Health Systems.
Hospitals across Massachusetts are consolidating, or considering it, because of changes in how providers are paid. Hospitals and doctors are increasingly being pushed into "global payment" systems under which they are given an annual budget to care for patients. Doctors and hospitals that are part of coordinated systems and can oversee all of a patient's medical needs are considered most likely to succeed under global payments.
About white coat notes
|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor
Elizabeth Comeau, Senior Health Producer