by Loren Bonner
, DOTmed News Online Editor | June 01, 2014
From the June 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
I think there's something to be said about some healthy competition
- even for hospitals -but in a world where everyone is fighting for market dominance, where does collaboration enter the picture?
For health care, it seems we're living in a world of mixed messages. On one hand, we're seeing hospitals and health systems becoming more business savvy. The Affordable Care Act has been responsible in large part for pushing this trend forward, as patient satisfaction scores mean more than ever today. But I'm noticing something else that's happening that is a direct counter against this competitive mindset. These same hospitals and health systems are realizing that they have to come together to carry out a lot of the new ideas under health care reform.
Take population health management, which might involve certain data sharing for a population of patients, and would be used to improve health outcomes. When it comes to serving a community, local hospitals would probably want to be able to share certain information, right?
While hospitals and local public health departments have had a history collaborating, I think it's noteworthy to hear about hospitals working to form similar types of partnerships. Recently, Tufts Medical Center in Boston and Lowell (Mass.) General Hospital - two not-for-profit entities - announced a formal partnering that would result in the formation of a new health system.
A written statement said the partnership would "create the scale needed to capitalize on population data management, efficiencies of group purchasing and the development of services."
"We believe in keeping physicians close to patients and removing the barriers that stand in the way of patients receiving care at the right time in the most appropriate setting, conveniently and affordably," said Normand Deschene, CEO of Lowell General Hospital. "This partnership with Tufts Medical Center will do just that. The new system will allow us to build and strengthen connections, remove obstacles and ultimately ensure that patients are navigating a far less complex healthcare experience."
But beyond trying to improve the delivery of health care for patients, collaboration among various hospitals and medical centers can go a long way in bringing medical breakthroughs to the forefront, as just one example.
A few weeks ago, I traveled to Houston to attend the inaugural Medical World Americas trade show, which was hosted by the Texas Medical Center and Messe Dü[<00FC>][<00FC>]sseldorf. Most of the speakers came from the Texas Medical Center or surrounding hospitals. As Texas Medical Center CEO, Dr. Robert Robbins, put it: "We will always will be competitive with hospitals but in specific areas - genomics, stem cells, regenerative medicine, clinical trials, health policy - we can all agree that this will take institutions coming together so that the sum of the individual parts is greater than the individual parts themselves. The rest of world is coming together in multi-institutional ways around these things and we should too."
I couldn't have said it better.