A hospital benefits when joining a large medical center

What if your local hospital went national?

In a growing trend, big name institutions are partnering with smaller hospitals nationwide, looking to leverage their reputation.

Drew Weilage, blogging at at our own system, highlights a local hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida which signed a partnership agreement with Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

Indeed, he asks, “Who wouldn’t choose, if they could, the Mayo Clinic for neurosurgery? Or the Cleveland Clinic for heart treatment? Or Johns Hopkins for a urology procedure? Each of these institutions are ranked first in those respective specialties according to US News.”

Name recognition sways patients’ choices when it comes to medical decisions. That’s why big name institutions, like the aforementioned Massachusetts General, are able to throw their weight around when it comes to negotiating rates with health insurers. Patient demand gives them the upper hand when bargaining.

So it makes sense that the next step would be to expand nationwide.

What happens to the local hospital? It could be a win-win for everyone involved: “Think of your local community hospital offering the expertise of the nation’s best. It really could be a collection of partnerships with the best around the country. It is especially likely if a particular hospital trails the local competition: the other guy is pretty good at heart care, but we’ve teamed with the Cleveland Clinic to bring you great heart care.”

Or, maybe, it will lead to more hospital consolidation — which may not be a bad thing, given the advantages integrated health systems bring.

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  • http://glasshospital.com GlassHospital

    Taking on the brand of MGH or Mayo or Cleveland Clinic changes the stationary and the financials, but it doesn’t change the personnel.

    Where it might be useful for patients is if their case becomes REALLY complicated and they need “quaternary care”–transplant, or experimental therapy. Then having the mother ship to get referred to (part of the reason these big brand hospitals want these affiliations) makes sense.

  • http://www.drjshousecalls.blogspot.com Dr. Mary Johnson

    Although, for the most part, I think it works very well for smaller hosptials in rural areas to attach themselves to larger entities . . . mostly in terms of (1) having resources you might not otherwise have, and (2) getting tertiary referrals out . . . things can occasionally become troublesome/uncomfortable if you want to refer to a hospital that isn’t “the parent company.

    The truth is, I’ve had much MORE trouble in that regard with hospitals that were in “cooperative relationships” with larger hospitals (as opposed to those that were already “owned” by them).

    “Cooperating” is all about being in the big boys club . . . without doing was is really necessary to be in it . . . about small pond big fish keeping their power.

    There are a lot of smaller hospitals out there that are really proud to be “independent” when they should be begging to be taken over.

  • Finn

    I’m guessing that this is just a way for the smaller hospital to out-compete other local hospitals for the health care bucks of New England snowbirds, who are likely to prefer the local hospital with an MGH affiliation.

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