Last month, SCP and ECI Healthcare Partners, Inc. announced that the merger had closed, resulting in a combined presence across the U.S. that includes 450 programs in 32 states, caring for more than eight million patients per year.

Combining the two networks allows for an “expansion of resources, a further growth of service offerings, and the utilization of industry-leading best practices,” the announcement said.

ECI stated in a recent blog post that, after 44 successful years as an independent organization, the time had come to change, due to a range of factors that include:

  • Sweeping health care reforms, which mandate the need to join forces to “grow bigger” and “get stronger”;
  • Benefit from increased footprint, expanded network, and greater resources;
  • Access to data, which the post said would enable the joint partners to "wring out more waste and overlap, make more informed decisions, and show our value more efficiently and clearly than ever before."

The reasons why ECI chose to align with SCP boiled down to two: the benefits gleaned from past competition and a vision for the future both organizations share:

“As anyone who has worked to win anything knows, the true value of competition isn’t the thrill of winning. It’s what you gain by competing: motivation, determination, creativity, [and] perseverance. You learn from your mistakes. You work harder. As much as it might have pained us to admit it even a year ago, each of us — Schumacher, HPP, and ECI Healthcare Partners — in some small part, we made each other better.

 “We have the same ideas about patient-centered care. We have the same belief in the vital necessity of physician support. We both understand that hospitals cannot have happy patients unless they first have happy physicians working in a healthy, physician-led practice environment.”

We couldn’t agree more. A statement from Rich D’Amaro, chief executive officer, SCP, in the announcement makes the point clear.

“ECI’s existing footprint complements ours with market presence including the West Coast, the Midwest, and parts of the Northeast,” he said. “Additionally, their unique model of clinical leadership in the field helps deepen our physician-led culture.”

In response to the ECI post, which addressed the question of “why now,” Dr. Stephen Nichols, chief of clinical operations performance at SCP, gave his sense of “what’s next” for our providers.

“The leaders will continue the series of meetings and collaborations necessary to get to this stage,” he said. “This will enable us to go further faster, to do even more to take care of people like you who care for even more people - our patients. And, we will communicate this as clearly and quickly as we can.”

Dr. Nichols said that the real test in all of this is the “gauntlet of government regulations and bureaucratic interventions” that sometimes impedes SCP’s ability to care for people in the way that is best for them. 

“This is what creates the burnout that dominates so much of medicine today,” he said. “We want to change that. We want to be the spark plug in someone's life, rather than a cog in something turning.”

His advice to both parties, moving forward, is to be wise, work hard to help each other, and ask questions.  “We will do our best to answer them, or to find the answers,” he said.

Dr. Nichols then issued this challenge: “What's next is the future, and it is something we want to make better. Please work with us to do just that. The health of our nation — and future generations — depends upon us fixing as much as we can and getting better results as we go along.”