Partners-Harvard Pilgrim Merger Motivated by Data?

Gregory A. Freeman, May 9, 2018

Data may be the key to surviving in the changing healthcare industry.

The proposed merger between Partners HealthCare and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is yet another response to pressure on all healthcare industry sectors to find innovative paths to success in a market where old business models aren't going to work.

Data is the necessary element in any solution, healthcare leaders are concluding, so someone else who has more data, or a different kind of data, is an attractive partner. 

That appears to be the case with the nonprofit healthcare system Partners and Harvard Pilgrim, a medical insurer in Massachusetts. Partners was founded by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital and includes community and specialty hospitals, a managed care organization, physician network, and a community health center.


Related: Expect M&A Deluge to Continue Through 2018 and Beyond


Leaders from both companies have been in negotiations for months, The Boston Globe reported. The options include Partners acquiring Harvard Pilgrim.

The deal is likely to face scrutiny from regulators, the newspaper notes. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was once the head of Harvard Pilgrim and said the state would look carefully at the proposed merger to assess the effect on consumers.

Data could be key

The proposed merger is "a defensive one," says David Friend, MD, chief transformation officer and managing director of the Center for Healthcare Excellence & Innovation with the consulting firm BDO. Friend also sits on the board of FallonHealth, a health plan in Massachusetts.

"Partners HealthCare brings access to patients and their data to the table, and Pilgrim brings access to their customers, as well as pharmacy benefits and claims data," he says. "By banding together as one, the two entities are better positioned through access to more potential customers, a streamlined supply chain and, ideally, improved care coordination and outcomes."

Gregory A. Freeman

Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer.

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