'New Switzerland' model could help children's hospitals use strategic partnerships to build scale

Partnerships may be the answer for children's hospitals that lack the ability to invest in building scale. (jansucko/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Children's hospitals looking to build the scale needed to survive could try a "New Switzerland" model that emphasizes beneficial partnerships. 

Some children's hospitals will be in a better position than others to invest in the model, according to an analysis from McKinsey and Co. The "New Switzerland" approach allows them to form tighter structural relationships with other providers. 

The model, according to McKinsey, can lead to a number of improvements, including cutting down on duplication via pooled resources and the ability to take on more risk in population health projects. 

"Today, almost all children’s hospitals are aspiring to build, or to deliver more impact from, their clinical programs, population health efforts, and research and operational enterprises," according to the report. "New partnerships can help them do this by enhancing both the pace of progress and return on investment." 

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These partnerships can vary in size, and could be local, regional, national or international as long as the alignment can fully address gaps and achieve goals, according to the report. Several examples of the model in action exist in the U.S. already, including: 

  • Nationwide Children's Hospital and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital: These hospitals joined forces in 2015 to form the Congenital Heart Collaborative, strengthening the heart programs at each hospital.
  • Phoenix Children's Hospital and St. Joseph's Pediatric Hospital: These hospitals united under a joint venture in 2011 and by aligning operations were able to take advantage of unused space on each campus instead of building new facilities to expand.
  • Children's Hospital in Omaha and the University of Nebraska College of Medicine: In 2007, these two organizations merged into one pediatric care-focused multispecialty group, which made it easier to launch new services and training programs. 

RELATED: Hospitals may take financial hit following merger

"Merger-mania" in the healthcare industry shows no signs of slowing down, but analysts like Kaufman Hall have seen an uptick in "creative affiliations," which are not traditional mergers but allow providers to align in nontraditional ways to achieve certain goals.