In some non-COVID related health news, the New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) is moving forward with its proposed research and clinical partnership with Novant Health and UNC Health. The New Hanover Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to move forward with the proposed affiliation, which has drawn criticism from some in the community. An article from Modern Healthcare reports,

As part of its proposal, Novant and UNC will expand the Wilmington branch of the UNC School of Medicine, boost faculty development, expand its pipeline for students who want to work in rural North Carolina and establish a new UNC Health Sciences campus, executives have said. They also pledged to develop a pediatric clinical partnership with UNC Children’s at Novant-affiliated sites in the New Hanover area, create outreach clinics and telehealth services from Chapel Hill, as well as develop research, clinical trials and population health studies

Mergers and acquisitions within the health care sector are commonplace and have happened for decades. In recent years, there has been massive consolidation in health care among large hospital systems and independent providers. Scaling up operations can lead to marginal gains in most sectors of the economy. However, this is not always the case in health care. Research shows that these mega-mergers may increase prices and decrease the quality of care.

Active observers of North Carolina health news may recall that HCA Healthcare purchased Ashville-based Mission Health, a string of hospitals in western North Carolina, back in early 2019. Things haven’t gone as smoothly as many hoped. Careful oversight of the proposed partnership between Novant Health and the NHRMC will be needed to ensure a smooth transition and continued quality of care.

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