Metro Health enters 2017 as a subsidiary of the University of Michigan Health System after the two closed on an affiliation agreement toward the end of 2016. The deal with the Ann Arbor-based U-M Health System gives Metro Health a partner to expand medical services ranging from primary care to specialties. It also allows Metro Health to better compete in the market. President and CEO Mike Faas told MiBiz he believes the deal is the biggest thing to happen in the local health care market since the 1997 merger of the former Butterworth Hospital and Blodgett Memorial Medical Center that created Spectrum Health, the largest care provider in the region.
Now that the deal is closed, what are the top priorities?
We’re really building off of what we’ve always been good at. We’re going to start with primary care. We’re going to fill all of the voids that we’ve seen in what we term out-migration. For whatever patients have to leave us for right now, they’re not going to have to. We’ve already identified specialty holes. We’re looking at those and we’re going to build out all of our service lines that we identified over the last two to three years, and some additional ones.
How will this change Metro?
Metro will always be Metro, but we aren’t who we were. We’re about to become a major player in West Michigan.
What will be the biggest immediate difference in the marketplace?
Perspective. Perception of the person on the street once this really hits and the understanding of what this is going to become.
Now that the deal closed, what’s 2017 going to be like for Metro Health?
Lots of growth. Substantial change, but good change. And gaining an understanding of living up to the potential that we’ve always had and a wherewithal to make it happen. And more partnerships and more relationships and all of the stuff that has made us who were are. We’ll do even more. We’ll do more community interaction. We’ll be tied to more communities in West Michigan.
You’ve said you want to grow Metro’s physician base. Are you actively in the market to acquire physician practices or form new partnerships?
We started two months ago to involve doctors that we haven’t talked with in the last two or three years. (We’re talking about) anything and everything. We don’t need to employ. We’d love to keep every physician independent. We think it’s in the community’s best interests that they can practice everywhere. If patients have a preference, we’re not jealous. We prefer not to get into forcing a patient to go to a certain location. We want to earn that decision by the patient and that family and that doctor. We’ll take our chances with that. We’re looking for doctors that want to align and now have real choice in West Michigan for the first time.
What does becoming part of U-M Health System and the brand it represents do for talent attraction? Will it help lure new specialists to Metro?
That’s what I mean when I say we aren’t who we were. We’re about to become what no one thought was possible. The potential in this is what is unknown. All we know is it’s big. The question is how big, and how can we grow this in a fashion that is based in sustainability in the long term because one of the things many organizations do is they grow so fast they can’t operate or implement after the fact.
Is it safe to say you’re looking at this partnership as a transformational change?
We’re pretty good at this because we’re grown and we’ve pushed ourselves for so long. But we never had a partner like this that opened doors. This affiliation with the University of Michigan took the entire exterior walls off of the building. It’s what is not possible is the bigger question.