Healthcare News & Insights

What hospitals should look for when creating partnerships

Due to increased pressure brought by value-based payment initiatives and other changes, more hospitals are looking to form partnerships with different types of providers, as well as community organizations focused on population health. When forging these partnerships, it’s crucial to be sure both entities mutually benefit from the relationship. 

An article from Hospitals & Health Networks outlines the steps facilities need to take to make sure they create effective partnerships with other healthcare stakeholders, such as post-acute care providers.

Looking internally

For starters, hospitals must make sure their own internal leadership is cohesive. Hospital executives must be on the same page with how to approach external partnerships and what the hospital needs from its potential partners.

To make sure the partnership strategy is the most effective, healthcare leaders also need to speak to representatives from various hospital departments, including physicians, along with financial and legal professionals. Together, everyone needs to come to an agreement about what’s expected from partners.

Partner qualities

It’s important to look for the following two factors in a potential partner so the relationship will work well:

  • High performance. A strong focus on quality and safety are important. When partnering with other healthcare organizations, be sure they have appropriate staffing ratios and are meeting industry benchmarks for patient care.
  • Shared values. The best partnerships are formed with organizations with similar values, culture and missions. Because these things can’t be revealed by looking at paperwork, hospital executives must spend significant time with potential partners, observing how they operate. Areas to watch include staff-to-staff (or staff-to-patient) interactions and the general level of engagement in any improvement initiatives.

Achieving success

Once a partnership is formed, both parties must be proactive about making sure the relationship continues to provide value. There must be a tangible, specific process in place to monitor and evaluate results. That way, any issues can be caught quickly, and steps can be made toward improvement.

Each partner also needs to have clearly spelled out responsibilities to hold up their end of the relationship, whether it’s meeting certain quality benchmarks or agreeing to participate in specific payment models.

Hospitals and their partners need to establish clear metrics they’ll use to measure success, along with protocols for reporting performance and sharing data with each other. Many hospitals are directly sharing information via their electronic health records (EHR) system with other healthcare providers they’re partnering with.

Even without those capabilities, hospitals can share information about patient outcomes with partners through regular meetings. These meetings should be used as opportunities to review data related to ongoing improvement initiatives and share ideas to improve care quality.

Because strong external partnerships can have many benefits for hospitals, including shorter lengths of stay, reduced readmissions and lower healthcare expenses, it’s critical to put in the effort required for any outside partnerships to survive and thrive.

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