Behind Wellmont Health's Search for a Partner

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , January 22, 2014

There is no real time table for that. If it takes us six months from start to finish to find the best partner, so be it. If it takes another six months to find what the right transaction is with that partner, so be it.

It's one of the beauties of being proactive in this regard. We don't have a timetable. We don't have a gun to our head. And we do think it is more important to do it right than to do it fast. We do believe that in 2014 we would be pretty far down the line selecting a partner and a transaction to be done.

HLM: Is there a deal breaker or a deal maker with potential partners?

DeNarvaez: There certainly are criteria that we will be testing for. One is that they are consistent with our own mission vision and values. To be candid, the more they look like us, talk like us, and act like us, the easier this will be. We are very committed to our service and quality agenda and we want a partner who is equally concerned with that. Culture will matter.

We are clearly going to look for a financially sound entity. We are a BBB+ plus bond rated entity. Those that would be interesting to us would be A-rated entities and above. We don't want to sign up with a partner who might also be looking for a partner. We want a partner who is committed to the technological advances that we have been committed to.

We have made a huge investment in Epic electronic records. We want a partner who is equally sophisticated in their medical and intellectual property. We want to know what they are invested in, what they have done with it, how they have used these tools.

We want a partner who can help us recruit physicians. We have strong service lines and strong medical staffs but when someone retires it is not obvious where a replacement is coming from. We have a strong commitment to physicians as leaders.

There are other criteria, but those are the ones that come to the top of mind right now. Clearly, as we listen to their stories, as we listen to who they are as an entity, we are going to look for certain markers that match up with our philosophy.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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