Simplified: Sanford Health and Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services are looking to team up. The two health systems announced Tuesday they've signed a letter of intent to combine and create a new regional health system.

Why it matters

  • Sanford has been eyeing partnerships for several years now – including a discussion with this same health system about a decade ago, per The Dakota Scout. Sanford also had a potential merger with Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare that fell through in 2020.
  • If/when the merger closes, the combined company will keep the Sanford Health name with Sanford President and CEO Bill Gassen leading the organization. Fairview CEO James Hereford will stay on for a year as co-CEO.
  • Leaders of the two companies said the complementary nature of their business models makes sense to combine. Fairview has experience serving urban populations, and Sanford has experience serving rural areas.
"As a combined system, we can do more to expand access to complex and highly specialized care, utilize innovative technology and provide a broader range of virtual services, unlock greater research capabilities and transform the care delivery experience to ensure every patient receives the best care no matter where they live," Gassen said in a statement.  

What does a combined health system look like?

The two organizations together would have a combined roughly 78,000 employees.

A news release sharing details about the merger said the combined system would also:

  • Improve patient experience
  • Help make care more affordable
  • Provide room for employee growth and advancement
  • Improve recruitment and retention.

On the logistics side, the two organizations would remain nonprofit entities with their own regional boards and leadership in the markets they serve.

What happens next?

Both hospital systems are on board with what they want out of a merger.

The next steps are a lot of red-tape stuff like reviewing processes, making sure it doesn't break any anti-trust laws and determining any other closing conditions.

The goal is to have the merger closed in 2023.