With Healthcare Changing ‘at Warp Speed,’ Advocate Aurora, Atrium to Merge


Illinois-based Advocate Aurora Health and Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health detailed a blockbuster merger announcement on May 11.

If the deal is approved by regulators, the new organization will have a combined footprint across Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. It will serve 5.5 million patients, operate more than 1,000 sites of care and 67 hospitals, employ more than 7,600 physicians and nearly 150,000 teammates and have combined revenues of more than $27 billion, making it the sixth-largest health system in the country behind only Kaiser Permanente, HCA, CommonSpirit Health, Providence and Ascension.

The combined organization will transition to a new brand: Advocate Health, with the Advocate Aurora and Atrium Health brands continuing to be used in their respective local markets. Wake Forest University School of Medicine will be the academic core of the combined entity. The new organization will be headquartered in Charlotte, while continuing to maintain a strong organizational presence in Chicago and Milwaukee, including a new institute for health equity located in Milwaukee. 

 The Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health boards of directors unanimously approved the agreement, which is subject to regulatory review.

The plan is for Jim Skogsbergh, president and CEO of Advocate Aurora Health, and Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health, to serve as co-CEOs for the first 18 months, at which point Skogsbergh will retire and Woods will become the sole CEO.

Both weighed in on the rationale for the merger. “The world of healthcare as we know it is changing at warp speed – and it is rapidly becoming more digital, personalized, scientific and complex,” said Woods in a statement. “This strategic combination will enable us to deepen our commitments to health equity, create more jobs and opportunities for our teammates and communities, launch new game-changing innovations and so much more. Together, we will manifest a new future that significantly elevates the care we provide to every hand we hold and every life we touch.”

“Together, we can do more, be better and go faster,” said Skogsbergh. “This combination harnesses our complementary strengths and expertise of our doctors, nurses and teammates to lead health care’s transformation for those we are so proud to serve.”

The health system leaders said the combination would allow them to make a positive impact across six key areas: clinical pre-eminence and safety, health equity, affordability, next-generation workforce, learning and discovery, and environmental sustainability. Highlights include a $2 billion pledge to disrupt the root causes of health inequities across both rural and urban underserved communities, their commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and a pledge to create more than 20,000 new jobs across the communities they serve.  

A board of directors comprising an equal number of members from Advocate Aurora and Atrium Health will govern the enterprise. Brown will chair the board of directors until December 31, 2023, and Richardson will assume leadership for the immediately succeeding two-year term.

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