HealthLeaders: Where do you see this partnership in five years?
Thompson: We have the potential to prove that you don't need a merger and governance and asset changes to cooperatively accomplish things that are part of all of our own missions.
We all have a mission to take care of patients in our communities and we believe that will drive us to great performance. It will be likely that other people will ask to be a part of this when they see our success, so it is likely we will grow. But again, our target is not to become big. Our target is to become better, faster.
HealthLeaders: Are you saying that being under one ownership arrangement is irrelevant?
Thompson: Certainly trying to get to that adds a ton of complications and we don't believe it necessarily helps us.
We believe right now with the strong commitment to boards of the organizations, the CEOs, the senior leadership of the organizations, that we can improve more quickly, we can take out costs, and that all of the complexities of governance and asset changes and all of that are not going to slow us down because we aren't doing that.
HealthLeaders: Does this partnership require government approval?
Thompson: We've checked with a number of lawyers and they don't believe it does, because we are not merging and we are not sharing price data and things like that. But we are working on quality improvement.
We are working on sharing best ways to reduce costs. We will all have multiple outside partners, so we believe right now that it does not come even near the gray areas of antitrust issues. Besides, there are other giant competitors in the region.