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Published on August 28, 2012

Questions and Answers about MidMichigan Health and U-M Health System Partnership Plans


1. What is being announced?
The University of Michigan Health System and MidMichigan Health are announcing plans to enter a formal partnership. Details will be worked out over the coming months, but in general the affiliation has UMHS acquiring a minority interest of less than 10 percent. Both organizations will collaborate in clinical and business areas.

2. What does this mean for MidMichigan Health employees, patients and communities?
The potential affiliation would mean that MidMichigan can strengthen its ability to serve patients and communities, while giving them easier access to the advanced care and expertise available from UMHS. MidMichigan’s employees, and the facilities they staff, would remain part of MidMichigan Health. They would continue to provide a broad range of services, but with expanded options made possible by collaboration with UMHS.

3. Why does MidMichigan Health want to affiliate with UMHS?

  • UMHS is the right choice to better fulfill our mission of providing excellent services to improve the quality of life of people in the communities we serve.
  • UMHS is a premier brand, nationally recognized for clinical excellence and physician expertise.
  • Our patients most frequently select UMHS as their preferred center of excellence when care is not available locally.
  • The alliance provides preference for MidMichigan patients for expedited referrals to UMHS specialists and services.
  • It provides greater access to clinical trials
  • It enhances our ability to recruit physicians.
  • MidMichigan Health and UMHS have complementary interests and this new partnership follows an affiliation for cancer between our two organizations that was signed in December 2011.
  • Collaboration with larger organizations is a necessity in the current and future health care environment. In order to succeed, we will need to be able to fully manage the health of the populations we serve, which means partnering to provide all of the services we cannot provide.
  • The affiliation preserves local control by MidMichigan Health.
  • It provides expertise in population health and information technology.

4. Does MidMichigan become part of UMHS if this affiliation goes through?
MidMichigan would be recognized as part of the broader University of Michigan Health System, but UMHS will only maintain a minority interest in MidMichigan.

5. Has MidMichigan talked to McLaren about affiliation?
MidMichigan did not talk with McLaren because interests and needs of McLaren and MidMichigan are not a match. UMHS was the best choice demonstrated by the fact that people in the middle of Michigan select UMHS more often than any other organization out of the region for specialty care that is not available locally.

6. If UMHS owns a small percentage of MidMichigan Health, does that mean that UMHS may one day own MidMichigan Health?
MidMichigan Health has approached this affiliation from a position of strength. It has an A1 bond rating from Moody’s, an A+ rating from Standard and Poor’s, high quality physicians, a strong relationship with its communities and has been rated a top health system by Thomson Reuters. MidMichigan plans to maintain local control.

7. What kind of dollars are changing hands?
The value of less than 10 percent ownership would be determined by partnership details and success of the partnership.

8. Would MidMichigan physicians be required to send their patients to UMHS for care?
The physicians – in conjunction with the patient – determine the best plan of care. There would not be a requirement for referral to UMHS physicians. There is a strong history of physician and patient preference for UMHS and we believe that will only grow as we work more closely together. However, it is the intent that care be optimized locally as much as possible.

9. How would MidMichigan Health change as a result of this affiliation?
Although complete details will need to be worked out, this partnership would be designed to create better access to specialty care currently not offered in the region that MidMichigan serves.

10. Will this mean that patients can get into U-M hospitals more easily?
Will U-M doctors travel to MidMichigan’s service area to provide care? All the details will be worked out as MidMichigan and UMHS work toward the final agreements. However, in general the letter of intent spells out a framework for better access by MidMichigan providers and patients to UMHS specialists and specialty services. Some of this might be in person, or by telemedicine.

11. In which clinical specialties will UMHS and MidMichigan Health collaborate?
The partnership would expand on a cancer services partnership already in place by teaming the two organizations to collaborate on the development of a major regional cancer center treating the vast array of cancer diagnoses. Cardiovascular services and other specialty areas will also be explored and determined by clinical leaders from both organizations.

12. What services will UMHS provide in the MidMichigan Health geographic area?
MidMichigan and UMHS also would work together to deepen MidMichigan’s clinical capabilities in several other clinical areas as well. Should it be necessary for patients from MidMichigan to seek care in Ann Arbor, UMHS would offer an expedited and preferred referral and communication process as well as coordination with the original MidMichigan referring physician when arranging the patient’s discharge.

13. Will research studies be part of this?
There may be future opportunities to explore clinical research as the relationship proceeds over time. At this point, however, the primary focus of the partnership is strengthening patient care in MidMichigan’s service area.

14. Will our relationships with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Central Michigan University College of Medicine be changed as a result of this affiliation with UMHS?
No. UMHS is aware of our other higher medical education relationships and these will continue.

15. Will U-M medical students or residents train at MidMichigan facilities?
Will MidMichigan physicians be able to receive continuing medical education at U-M? No specifics have yet been worked out, but this is an area we intend to explore fully as the relationship proceeds.

16. Where did this idea to affiliate come from?
This is not a new idea. Hospitals and health systems have been making these moves over the last couple of years more rapidly than ever before.

17. Will MidMichigan join a UMHS-led accountable care organization, or will a new one be formed?
Discussions about specific aspects of this collaboration will follow after a definitive agreement is signed. Health care reform readiness is a specific area that MidMichigan and UMHS intend to fully explore. UMHS has successfully participated in ACOs and has access to expertise in this area.

18. When do you expect this affiliation to be finalized and will it be in place before Rick Reynolds of MidMichigan retires?
The plan is to work on the details of the affiliation over the coming months, then begin implementation. A team of administrators and clinical and physician leaders from MidMichigan and UMHS who have been working on this for months will continue to do so through affiliation and implementation.

19. How long will it take to finalize a Definitive Agreement?
Both organizations hope to have a definitive agreement in approximately 120 days.

20. Does MidMichigan Health plan to change its name?
No. There are no plans to change our name.

21. Will MidMichigan hospitals now have a “block M” on them?
Will the UMHS brand be used in MidMichigan marketing and promotion? Specifics about the way this affiliation is represented to the public will be finalized as part of the Definitive Agreement.

22. What does this mean for other UMHS affiliations, such as with IHA, Trinity Health-Michigan or the Pennant Health Alliance?
Those other affiliations will continue as part of the UMHS strategic goal of serving the entire state and ensuring that patients receive care in the most appropriate location.

23. What does this mean for relationships UMHS has with referring physicians and hospitals throughout the state?
Nothing in those relationships will change. UMHS is a resource for the entire state of Michigan and has positive relationships with, and receives referrals from every hospital in the state. These relationships will continue, and we feel that this particular affiliation allows UMHS to better serve the population that resides in the MidMichigan service area.

Read full news release about proposed affiliation.