Positioning Your Hospital to Partner with Other Providers
Healthcare Leaders Resolve to Build Bolder Partnerships in 2016
Partnerships and collaborations in the health care industry are nothing new. Like the previous year, 2015 saw its fair share of robust acquisitions and mergers, a few even qualify as epic in scope. As we turn the calendar page to a new year, we can indeed expect more big fish activity, more change, and more stringent demands overall. For the average community hospital however, large-scale transformation is unlikely. Even so, this prediction does not diminish the need to forge new pathways and more meaningful community partnerships. The challenge for small and midsize healthcare leaders in 2016 is to be bolder, substantially more strategic, and to flex creative muscle.
How do you prepare your organization to successfully partner and get what you need from the relationship whether it’s coordination of care, shared resources, or joint program planning? How can you make meaningful investment in partnerships that will succeed? First, you need to determine whether your hospital or CAH is ready to take this important step.
Some of the best collaborations evolve from team members talking about innovation. Having the right people on the team and the right leadership (stakeholders) are critical. Common pitfalls are not having the right people in place to work with potential partners, a lack of execution, and idea killers – people who try and dismiss or shut down a person’s idea at the early stage by saying it won’t work or it’s been done before or it’s a bad idea. Idea killers will stop potentially innovative collaborations in their tracks.
Conversely, successful partnerships and collaborations occur when these factors are present:
- Innovation teams drawn from the participating organizations are comprised of a combination of specialists from different fields to produce diverse teams.
- Both teams have complementary styles.
- The partnership is based in innovation that delivers new value to both organizations.
- The two organizations share physical proximity.
- Both organizations have driving strategies in common within their organizations’ strategic plans.
Cost sharing through new partnerships and collaboration is the only practical path for hospitals and CAHs to generate new sources of revenue. If you’re weighing the feasibility of a new partnership, you will need to evaluate its financial impact. The new collaboration should more than pay for itself. If it can’t at least double the financial investment made in it, then it doesn’t meet the criteria of adding significant or new value. Setting expectations for the new collaboration is vital, and it’s important to recognize that not every innovation delivers its increased value immediately. Some take time to develop and be adopted by the industry and by users. It’s important to keep this in mind and have a clear timeline of when the partnership will reach key financial milestones.
A relatively small coordinating team should help manage the new partnership. This would ideally consist of individuals who have full responsibility for focusing and coordinating the work of the partnership. Make sure you have such a team in place or can assemble one that is exclusively devoted to this objective.
Most hospitals don’t have the resources to foster innovation despite the fact that innovative partnerships are badly needed. To address this, some hospitals have formed “innovation units” that are piloting new models of care. These same hospitals are also hosting unique competitions that encourage bold thinking and hospital-wide events that promote new ideas for collaboration. Models used in other industries can also help to provide a framework for the type of innovative partnerships needed in health care today. If you think you’re ready for exploring a new partnership and have the right team in place, remember that there’s plenty of room for innovation and new thinking, especially when it comes to partnering with another provider, a healthcare system, or respected community alliances with similar interests in providing wellness and life enhancement services to a shared audience.
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