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OU Medicine, SSM Health Cancel Proposed Joint Operating Agreement

News  |  By Philip Betbeze  
   March 08, 2017

Clinical integration between SSM Health's St. Anthony Hospital and Physicians Group and OU Medicine will continue.

A little more than four months after announcing that Oklahoma's University Hospitals Authority and Trust would buy out current partner HCA and then unite with St. Louis-based SSM Healthcare, those plans have been canceled.

On Monday, the parent of OU Medicine and SSM Health announced that the two organizations will no longer pursue a financial and governance union, but will leave in place plans to clinically integrate.

In a joint statement, neither UHAT nor SSM Health provided a reason for the failure of negotiations that would have completed the deal, only acknowledging that the parties mutually concluded the transaction could not be finalized.

Unions with private Catholic healthcare organizations and large public health organizations have often been scuttled by failure to reach agreement on reproductive issues.

SSM Health is also in the midst of a chief executive transition, with current president and CEO Bill Thompson set to retire in April, and new president and CEO Laura Kaiser set to begin her tenure in May.

The $750 million buyout of current JOA partner HCA by UHAT will continue, however, with the purchase of HCA's interest expected to close by summer of this year. HCA is the current manager and joint owner of OU Medical System hospitals and facilities, which include the flagship 680-bed OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

SSM Health, which has 20 hospitals and a Wisconsin health plan, owns and operates 601-bed St. Anthony hospital in Oklahoma City, Bone and Joint Hospital at St. Anthony, as well as St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital in Shawnee, OK.

SSM Health had been expected to take over day-to-day operations at all of OU's medical systems, hospitals and clinic buildings.

All three organizations remain optimistic about the benefits of clinical collaboration to enhance care coordination, share best practices, and, ultimately, improve patient care, according to the joint release.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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