How one standalone hospital thrives in an era of consolidation

At a time when standalone hospitals feel pushed to form alliances to survive, one California provider has thrived without sacrificing its independence, according to MedCity News.

Marin General Hospital, a 235-bed facility with a publicly-elected board, implemented multiple cutting-edge programs recently, such as its use of mobile devices to collaborate with accountable care organization (ACO) patients on readmission reduction. It has accomplished this despite heavy competition from major California players such as Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente, MedCity News reports.

The Greenbrae-based organization has several other initiatives, according to CIO Mark Zielazinski, such as digitizing drug delivery pumps from a single central office and a $650 rebuild of the hospital to bring it up to code with the state's earthquake requirements.

Marin General has not always been independent, however; as recently as 2010, it was an affiliate of Sutter. Under Sutter's management, the hospital found itself butting heads with area residents over claims of financial mismanagement. These controversies led to the hospital severing ties with Sutter. Since striking out on its own, Zielazinski said, the organization has created a culture that embraces technology and innovation early on. For example, Marin General was the first hospital to adopt a mobile platform to coordinate post-discharge care for patients at high risk for readmission.

As a result, Marin General cut 30-day readmissions nearly 25 percent among ACO patients and reduced average length of stay by half a day.

"It's become an invaluable tool for us," Zielazinski said. "This was an integral part of reducing our readmissions." Despite the initial uncertainty when the hospital ended its relationship with Sutter, its standalone status has become an asset, he said. "Because we're an independent hospital with a very tight executive team and a very solid board, we can do some things relatively quickly, and that's what companies who want to invest in something need."

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