As a Rhode Island based, integrated academic healthcare system, Lifespan and Care New England will be better able to confront and address the operational, social, and economic challenges that currently limit the equitable provision of high-quality, lower cost healthcare for the people of our state. With Brown University as our academic partner, the new entity will also serve as a catalyst for the development of a robust research and innovation hub that will attract life sciences companies, researchers and entrepreneurs that will enhance Rhode Island’s economy for many decades to come. It will become an economic engine for the state, supporting existing jobs and creating new ones for the people of Rhode Island. It will provide robust training, retraining, and retention programs for existing and new employees, and will focus on building a workforce that reflects our community, based on the core principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The new entity—for now, dubbed the “Rhode Island Academic Healthcare System (RIAHCS)”—will transform patient care by enabling doctors and researchers to share and collaborate on medical discoveries and treatments in ways they are not able to do today as separate organizations. The merger provides the opportunity to implement a single electronic health record, or EHR, which would allow all the doctors across the various institutions to be on the same team, with access to a patient’s electronic health record, and create a system of care with the patient at the center. A single EHR will provide access to test results on a real-time basis, leading to better informed and faster treatment decisions. It will also reduce patient cost and inconvenience by eliminating redundant testing, which can occur when patients travel between different healthcare systems using different EHRs. 

Unlike national, for-profit companies, Care New England and Lifespan are both nonprofit healthcare systems and will continue operating that way as a combined entity. That means that any “profits” generated from the new system are automatically reinvested into the communities we serve rather than being distributed to shareholders. This merger will protect our local network of hospitals from being acquired by an out-of-state, for-profit healthcare company that both has no accountability to the people of Rhode Island and does not have a vested long term interest in our community. 

As a few concrete examples of what we could do together, RIAHCS will improve cancer care by creating a comprehensive cancer center that will seek National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation, will enhance both women’s and children’s care by establishing a comprehensive women’s health hospital and a comprehensive children’s hospital, and will improve the care and treatment of patients with complex neurological disorders by expanding the capabilities of the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute (NPNI). In addition, RIAHCS will have the opportunity to combine the expertise in psychiatric and mental health of both systems to offer a more fully integrated system, bringing Butler, Bradley and Rhode Island Hospital together in a more synergistic manner. 

The new system would collaborate with payers, including the state government, in new and innovative ways to accelerate the movement towards value based payment models and away from fee for service models that drive up the cost of healthcare. 

RIAHCS will also develop healthy environments in Rhode Island communities to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health. We commit to working with clinicians, public health practitioners, and researchers to support communities and individuals who have varying levels of health literacy, to make healthcare more accessible. With a strong commitment to population health, RIAHCS will commit $10M over three years to address the social determinants of health (e.g., homelessness, food insecurity). 

The vision is compelling and the time is now. It is time for Rhode Island to finally have its own integrated academic healthcare system. The transformed system has the potential to position Providence as a leader in healthcare, rivaling medical hubs like Boston, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. We hope you will embrace this transformation for the good of our state.

Timothy J. Babineau, MD

Timothy J. Babineau, MD

Prior to his appointment as Lifespan’s president and chief executive officer, Timothy Babineau, MD served as president and chief executive officer of Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. Before coming to Rhode Island in 2008, he was the senior vice president and chief medical officer for the University of Maryland Medical Center and School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Before the 2005 appointment at the University of Maryland, Dr. Babineau held numerous administrative positions, including vice chairman of the division of surgery, surgical residency program director and director of the center for minimally invasive surgery at Boston Medical Center and surgeon-in-chief and medical director for the Boston Medical Center Surgical Associates at Quincy Medical Center. He has been a trustee for the University of Massachusetts and a member of its Audit and Finance Committee.