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.