Healthcare News & Insights

More hospitals make unlikely partnerships

Not only are hospitals looking to make innovative partnerships with outside organizations, some are actually working with other competing hospitals and healthcare systems to cut costs and boost quality.

163939821While it used to be unusual for different hospitals to partner up for any reason, it’s become more essential for facilities to cooperate with each other for survival in the current healthcare climate.

Cheaper supplies

In some cases, facilities are trying to tighten up weaknesses in their supply chain by collaborating to purchase common hospital supplies, including hospital gowns, gloves and syringes.

An article in Harvard Business Review details how a few of these partnerships work. Over the past decade, hospitals and health systems located in similar geographic areas started purchasing these supplies together as a group to have better negotiating power with vendors.

Besides standard hospital supplies, facilities have also come together to negotiate better prices for drugs and larger-scale purchases like hospital equipment.

Specifically, the HBR article discusses one successful purchasing coalition, the Upper Midwest Consolidated Services Center, where 42 different facilities come together to purchase close to $2 billion worth of drugs and supplies each year.

Members of the coalition save between 15% and 20% of the costs they’d spend if they purchased these items on their own.

Other, smaller-scale partnerships are being formed between large hospitals and smaller facilities to eliminate wasteful drug spending, the article states. Specifically, these hospitals are looking at the drugs they purchase the most, using each individual hospital’s experience and knowledge to determine if any are being overprescribed.

Quality counts

Besides cutting costs, hospitals are working together to boost care quality and patient outcomes. One new organization, AllSpire Health Partners, brings together 25 different hospitals from seven health systems spanning four different states.

According to the HBR article, the goal of this partnership is for each hospital to share resources, best practices and research capabilities to refine treatment approaches and improve patient health.

2 bigger benefits

Collaborative efforts like these among hospitals of all types improve healthcare delivery overall. In particular, the article cites two benefits to these partnerships:

  1. They reduce variation. Hospitals that work together can adopt the same standards for patient care. Standardization not only ensures that patients will receive the same treatment across the board, it helps hospitals replicate practices that lead to better outcomes for patients.
  2. They affect how quickly other hospitals adopt best practices. Here, peer pressure is a positive force. Usually, if a large group of hospitals start using the same practices for patient care, and they’re successful, other hospitals also begin to try them. And the more hospitals that adopt evidence-based practices, the better outcomes are overall.

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