With all the changes happening in the current healthcare climate, hospitals looking to thrive must take unique approaches to their operations. Facilities may end up in a better position by drawing inspiration from some of the nation’s children’s hospitals and creating unique partnerships to serve patients.
According to an article from U.S. News & World Report, children’s hospitals face many challenges. With large health systems dominating the healthcare market, it can be tough for even the top child-focused facilities in the country to recruit new patients.
Plus, because children’s hospitals rarely treat adults, the market for patients is limited.
The number of children’s hospitals is smaller than it’s been in the past – only 35 freestanding facilities in the U.S. currently just focus on children’s care. That means the number of specialists who focus on treating children is also smaller.
As a result, some hospitals are forming alliances to pool their resources and reach as many patients together as possible.
Seattle Children’s Hospital is one of those facilities. The hospital operates as a regional medical center for children, serving patients in northwestern states such as Montana, Alaska and Idaho, along with children throughout Washington state. To do this, it works with two large health systems: Providence Health & Services, based in Washington, and Catholic Health Initiatives, headquartered in Colorado.
Some partnerships between children’s hospitals extend even further. The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh works closely with St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, overseeing the facility’s pediatric heart surgery program after two of St. Joseph’s heart surgeons left the hospital.
For over a year, St. Joseph’s didn’t have a pediatric heart surgery program at all, opting to refer patients to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, located in St. Petersburg, FL. In late 2014, St. Joseph’s partnered with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to relaunch its program, with assistance from doctors who occasionally fly in from Pittsburgh to perform surgery.
Other children’s hospitals allow larger, general facilities to use their specialists to treat young patients. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin does this. Many of its pediatric surgeons rotate throughout hospitals all over the state.
Because Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is smaller and faces competition from these facilities when treating patients, its strategy focuses on survival. Having its specialists travel all over the state ensures the hospital stays relevant and continues to recruit new patients that would otherwise be treated by different providers.
Positive for all involved
Creating these partnerships is beneficial for both children’s hospitals and the patients they serve. Not only do partnerships protect the hospital’s revenue, they also increase competition for medical services in a geographic area. That means patients have more options for care.
Plus, more competition also gives hospitals more data to compare the quality of the services they provide to the quality of similar programs. This can help hospitals know what areas to target to improve patient outcomes, which improves their bottom line through meeting value-based care requirements.
So all hospitals may want to take a page from children’s hospitals and see about forming similar partnerships with facilities. That way, hospitals can expand their reach and the services they offer. This strategy will likely be critical to financial and clinical success in the coming years.