Ochsner Health is continuing its aggressive expansion into the Baton Rouge market with the acquisition of Louisiana Women’s Healthcare, which is the largest private practice of obstetricians and gynecologists in the state and is based in the physician’s office building at Woman’s Hospital.
The two providers announced the deal this morning. It is scheduled to close May 1.
“This is a continuation of our expansion and growth in Baton Rouge,” says Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas. “The way we look at it, we want to continue to care for more lives across the state. LWH cares for 70,000 women in the Baton Rouge region so it’s a way to build new relationships in a lot of different ways.”
For LWH, the deal is a way to reduce the growing cost of care while gaining access to the technology and telemedicine platforms utilized by Ochsner, according to LWH CEO Kim Sangari, who says the 33-physician group practice approached Ochsner in late 2019 about exploring the partnership.
“We’re the ones who reached out to Ochsner because this can help us reduce the cost of care,” Sangari says. “They use the premier electronic medical records platform in the country. We couldn’t afford to do this ourselves and smaller hospitals cannot really afford to do it.”
LWH will continue to be based at Woman’s Hospital, where its offices occupy three floors in the physician’s office building. Its physicians will continue to perform deliveries and procedures at Woman’s Hospital.
In that respect, nothing will change from the patient’s perspective.
But the deal will enable LWH to use Ochsner’s Epic Electronic Health Record system and other telemedicine platforms, which will allow patients to receive better care at a lower cost, says Dr. O’Neil “Jay” Parenton, LWH physician and finance chair.
“Our patients today, more than ever, want to experience the latest in telehealth offerings and digital medicine tools,” Parenton says. “Our patients want online scheduling, telehealth appointments and ease of access to their medical records, and we want to meet and exceed those expectations.”
For Ochsner, the acquisition is a way to continue growing its share in an increasingly competitive market.
“We have patients we care for that likely get their care at LWH, so there is already crossover,” Thomas says. So this is an opportunity to build more of those relationships across more specialties.”
Thomas says the LWH acquisition should not be interpreted as a first step in a move to acquire Woman’s Hospital.
“We haven’t even considered that,” he says. “We’re focused on LWH right now and getting that completed. But we would always love the opportunity to work with organizations like Woman’s.”
Sangari says LWH physicians unanimously supported the deal. The group’s 238 employees were notified late Thursday.
Ochsner officials say there will not be any layoffs, even among those who do back-office functions.
“Over time, they will come under our system,” he says. “But there will not be any layoffs. We’re actually going to grow this practice.”