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At major San Francisco conference, it’s Mass General Brigham, not Partners

Dr. Anne Klibanski, CEO of Partners HealthCare, spoke at a Health Policy Commission meeting last year.
Dr. Anne Klibanski, CEO of Partners HealthCare, spoke at a Health Policy Commission meeting last year. Jim Davis//Globe Staff

SAN FRANCISCO — That didn’t take long.

Barely six weeks after Partners HealthCare announced that it was changing its name to Mass General Brigham in an expensive rebranding, top executives of Massachusetts’s largest health care system debuted the new moniker at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Addressing hundreds of health care industry employees and investors in an overflowing ballroom on the 32nd floor of the Westin St. Francis Hotel, Dr. Anne Klibanski, the new chief executive of the company, said she has received many questions about the change.

“Why rebrand as Mass General Brigham?” said Klibanski, who last June became the first female CEO of the company, the state’s largest private employer, with 75,000 employees.

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While the hospital system provides a broad spectrum of services, including community hospitals, walk-in surgery clinics, and rehabilitation centers, she said, the new name showcases its biggest and most recognized assets: the two renowned Boston teaching hospitals that formed the partnership in 1994.

Monday’s agenda listing the nonprofit health care firms presenting at J.P. Morgan identified the Massachusetts company as “Mass General Brigham (formerly Partners HealthCare).” And a slide deck shown by Klibanski and Peter Markell, executive vice president of administration and finance, repeatedly used the health care system’s new name.

“There are still some legal things we have to go through to make it official, but that is the name of the system,” Klibanski said after the half-hour presentation. “I mean, internally it’s already starting to be referred to that way.”

She expects that the legal steps to finalize the name change will be completed in the spring. Work is also taking place on the design of a new logo, but she gave no timetable for when that will be unveiled, nor did she offer a hint of what it will look like.

Rebranding a company as enormous as Partners is expected to be expensive. The $13 billion organization has facilities across the state, and it receives an industry-leading $1.8 billion in research revenue.

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The Partners name is used on hospitals and corporate office buildings, e-mail addresses, websites, business cards, electronic health records, and patient bills. Depending on the extent of the renaming effort, the cost could surpass $100 million, according to people familiar with the estimates.

When Partners officials disclosed last summer that they were considering jettisoning the Partners name, some industry experts theorized there were other rationales besides a desire to highlight the two founding hospitals.

Although Massachusetts General and the Brigham are among the nation’s most prestigious hospitals, Partners has been criticized for using its market power to charge high prices for services. It has been the focus of antitrust investigations and criticized as a behemoth for trying to expand by acquiring smaller hospital systems.

In addition, despite their supposed founding partnership, Mass. General and Brigham and Women’s have sometimes behaved as rivals, at times competing in medical specialties.

But Klibanski said after her presentation that the fundamental rationale for the name change was simple: The old name meant little to patients.

“I’ve been a practicing physician for over 30 years,” said Klibanski, an expert on rare endocrine diseases. “Patients don’t understand Partners HealthCare. It’s an artificial name. Patients understand the hospitals.”


Priyanka Dayal McCluskey of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com.

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