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'The big swing': Summa, HATCo leaders tout proposed acquisition

Marc Harrison, MD, CEO of General Catalyst's Health Assurance Transformation Corp., or HATCo, said one of the venture capital firm's goals is to put Akron, Ohio-based Summa Health "on a trajectory to become a forever organization for the community it serves." 

Summa Health and General Catalyst signed a nonbinding agreement Jan. 17. If the deal is finalized, Summa Health will become a fully owned subsidiary of HATCo.

"This is the big swing," Dr. Harrison told Becker's. "If you look around American healthcare, you look around global healthcare, no one else is trying anything of this size, scope and scale with a real possibility of getting it done." 

From Summa Health's perspective, COO Ben Sutton told Becker's, "We expect to be a model of transformation at other health systems. And we expect to be an employer that is a destination for people who want to be part of that transformative effort."   

Dr. Harrison joined HATCo in 2022 from Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, where he served as CEO. He said he felt his purpose when HATCo was formed was to "try and help make stepwise change" for an industry he admires. 

"This approach that we're describing — a for-profit approach with a very longtime horizon that's dedicated to being more resilient, not less resilient, so they can serve their communities in a contemporary fashion we call a 'clicks and mortar' fashion — is really important," he said. "My fantasy was to find a health system, roughly $2 billion in revenue, that was the biggest player in the market they served that had a health plan and had an orientation toward change. Because I think anyone who has led transformation knows it can't be forced.

The proposed deal will transform Summa Health from a nonprofit system to a for-profit. Dr. Harrison said the for-profit model is "how we transform the industry holistically." 

"It does not appear that traditional models, whether it's conventional non-for-profit medicine or unconventional [private equity], is actually really changing the industry holistically, and I think it has to be both a good investment in doing the right thing and then we can make big change," he said. 

He said he is also hoping the model will demonstrate how an economically viable health system leads to healthier communities in bigger ways. 

"Different kind of economy, different kind of educational system, different level of security of the people who work within it," he said. "I'm so glad to be working with a system that is a safety-net system already. … It's something that Hemant Taneja, CEO of General Catalyst, and I feel strongly about. If we're going to transform the industry, we're not just transforming it for rich people. We're transforming it for people."

Summa Health CEO Cliff Deveny, MD, told Becker's that his organization is looking for how to make healthcare more affordable and more accessible, remove friction for employees to make their lives more satisfying when they come to work and improve the consumer experience. 

"It's a great thesis, and it's one we've been working on for well over a year now, and we really believe this will sustain our mission going forward," Dr. Deveny said.  


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