BOSTON (October 22, 2014) – Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General Hospital today announced that they had finalized their agreement to establish a new health care system. The new system, which has been approved by the Department of Public Health and reviewed by the Health Policy Commission, will be known as Wellforce. Wellforce represents a unique model that will improve coordination of care and enable clinicians to better serve the health needs of communities while enhancing the affordability of care.
Under this agreement, Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General Hospital have formed a new parent organization. This organization will be led by CEO Normand Deschene, CEO of Lowell General Hospital and CEO and president of Circle Health (an integrated health delivery system in Greater Lowell). Ellen Zane, Vice Chair of the Tufts Medical Center Board of Trustees, will serve as chair of the Wellforce board. Lowell General and Tufts Medical Center will be equally represented on the Wellforce board. Tufts Medical Center, Lowell General Hospital and future members of Wellforce will continue to operate with a high degree of autonomy and be governed by separate boards of trustees and chief executive officers.
“Wellforce turns the traditional health care model on its head,” said Deschene. “Our focus goes beyond caring for the sick to encompass prevention, community health and investment in data and digital technologies rather than capital-intensive equipment and buildings, all in the interest of enabling clinicians to do what they do best − care for patients and their communities.”
The agreement brings together two hospitals which are already recognized as some of the most efficient, high-quality, lower-cost providers in the state. As the Health Policy Commission recognized in its review of this new health system, “this transaction may actually decrease costs” – in sharp contrast to other affiliations in Massachusetts which have raised the specter of higher healthcare costs.
“Together in Wellforce, our physicians and hospitals will make a real difference in Massachusetts health care,” said Zane. “We understand and exhibit on a daily basis the amazing things that can happen when community medicine and academic medicine truly collaborate for the benefit of the patient. Now, combined through Wellforce, we can increase the opportunities for sharing information and data, enhancing care coordination and taking proven population health management programs to scale. In addition, we do this while respecting the autonomy of our members. I think many providers are looking for this alternative.”
The organizations selected the name Wellforce because its unique structure allows all types of health care providers and organizations to join together and be a positive force for improving the health care system and promoting health and wellness in diverse communities.
Wellforce builds on the values of Circle Health’s principle of providing “complete connected care,” and Tufts Medical Center’s commitment to keeping care in the community and engaging the full continuum of providers, not hospitals alone, in keeping patients and communities healthy.
Finalization of the agreement follows an intensive five-month due diligence process after Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in April 2014.
“Wellforce is aligned with the revolution occurring in health care,” said Deschene. “The ACA and trends in health care costs in the United States demand a new vision for care delivery. With Wellforce we are well positioned to lead on quality, wellness and affordability.”
For additional information, visit www.wellforce.org.
Julie Jette for Tufts Medical Center
Angela Strunk for Lowell General Hospital