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Partners HealthCare CEO David Torchiana to Leave in Spring 2019

David Torchiana, MD, Partners HealthCare CEO, plans to retire at the end of April 2019 after serving as the head of the largest Massachusetts health system since 2015.

Partners Healthcare CEO David Torchiana, MD

Source: Thinkstock

By Jacqueline LaPointe

- The head of the largest health system in Massachusetts recently announced that he will step down later this year.

David Torchiana, MD, plans to retire April 29, 2019, after serving as the chief executive of Partners HealthCare since 2015, a spokesperson from the health system told

“I am fortunate to have worked at MGH and Partners for my entire professional life and to have been given the opportunity to lead us forward at the culmination of my career,” Torchiana said in an emailed statement. “I look forward to retirement and have full confidence in the future of our organization which is filled with talented and dedicated people focused on our important mission to make healthcare better and take exceptional care of the patients that have placed their trust in our hands.”

Partners HealthCare includes Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s, both top-ranked hospitals in the nation. The Boston-based health system employs approximately 73,000 employees across New England, including 6,500 physicians and 9,100 nurses.

The health system brings in over $7 billion in net patient revenue, placing it in the 97th percentile, according to data from Definitive HC.

Partners HealthCare may be the top player in the Boston healthcare market. But the health system has recently sought to expand its portfolio in the face of the Lahey Health-Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center merger.

Lahey Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center signed a hospital merger agreement back in July 2017, and the deal received approval from Massachusetts Attorney General Maury Healy by late November of 2019. The hospital merger deal would create Beth Israel Lahey Health system (BILH), a 13-hospital system with over 800 primary care physician and more than 3,500 specialists across the state.

The new health system would be the second largest behind Partners HealthCare.

The competitive healthcare market and the push for improved care at lower costs has driven Partners HealthCare to seek new opportunities. The health system recently earned the approval of federal officials to acquire Care New England in Rhode Island.

Partners HealthCare also acquired specialty hospital Massachusetts Eye and Ear in February 2018.

Additionally, the largest health system in Massachusetts was recently in talks to merge with local health insurance provider Harvard Pilgrim. But the organizations halted merger discussions after stakeholders raised concerns that the deal would not earn regulatory approval.

Local news sources are reporting that all the healthcare merger moves have created tension between leaders in the organization. The Boston Globe specifically reported “a lot of friction” between Torchiana and leaders at two major hospitals within the Partners HealthCare ecosystem.

But healthcare executive turnover is not uncommon in the changing healthcare landscape. According to a June 2018 report by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), hospital CEO turnover has held steady at 18 percent for the fourth straight year.

“According to our data, the past five years have been the longest period of continuously elevated CEO turnover rates above 18 percent since we began studying turnover in the early 1980s,” stated Deborah J. Bowen, FACHE, CAE, ACHE’s President and CEO. “Hospitals and health systems continue to evolve and reorganize to meet the demands of the new healthcare environment at the same time many CEOs are reaching retirement age, all of which may be contributing to CEO turnover. More than ever, C-suite succession planning and more intentional focus on the professional development of new leaders is vital to organizational success.”

While the most recent rate is lower than the high of 20 percent observed in 2013, the level of hospital CEO turnover was still equal to the rates reported in the previous three years and remains among the highest levels recorded in the past two decades, researchers stated.


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