UW Health and UnityPoint Health Meriter, two of the largest health care providers in state, have established a new business relationship.
That relationship will allow patients of both health care providers to be treated at the facility that best meets their needs. It will also allow both institutions to focus on their traditional strengths.
UW Health is the state’s largest academic medical center, while Meriter is a highly respected community hospital.
“UW Health and UnityPoint Health Meriter have been partners for years and this takes that partnership to another level, in a way that now instead of focusing on the competitive part of our organizations, that part is put aside so that we can focus on our patients,” said Alan Kaplan, CEO of UW Health.
The strengths UW Health bring to the table, including a Level 1 trauma center, burn center, transplant programs and the Carbone Cancer Center will be available to serve Meriter patients.
Meriter’s birthing center, NICU and community hospital setting will become an asset available to UW Health patients.
“We’re really complementary organizations, in terms of a community hospital and an academic medical center and when you put those two together seamlessly, you just get a much more powerful clinical presence,” said Arthur Nizza, Jr., CEO of UnityPoint Health Meriter.
The new partnership will allow the insurers of both institutions, Physicians Plus, Unity and Gundersen Health Plan, to integrate to create broader network choices.
Insurance plan members will not see immediate changes, but insurance companies will begin work to integrate networks to align with providers. It may take several months for that integration to be completed.
The enhanced partnership will also allow for some cost saving.
“By having access to Meriter Hospital, we’re able to off-load University Hospital, which is running at a very high capacity, 90 percent at times,” said Kaplan.
“Being able to use Meriter facilities, we’ll be able to save over $100 million in not spending that money on capital to build more beds for University Hospital.”
The partnership will allow the two institutions to look for cost savings, by eliminating some redundant services. But the partnership will also likely spur business and allow for growth.
“What I would say, and what I am saying to employees is that this is really a completely new opportunity that this partnership allows us to have for growth that we would not have,” said Nizza.
UW Health and UnityPoint Health Meriter have more than 20,000 employees.
A visible immediate change will be to the logo of UnityPoint Health Meriter. It will now include the words, “partner of UW Health.”