Beth Israel CEO: Partnership, not patient referrals, is future model

Hospitals should move away from the mindset of increasing patient referrals to a culture of provider collaboration as the model for the future, according to Dr. Kevin Tabb, who took his post at the helm of Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in October. The CEO spent his first two months as head of the renowned institution meeting with almost every hospital in the city, including rival facilities, reports WBUR's Common Health blog.

"I spent time outside the four walls of this hospital because the really important changes are going to happen externally as well," Tabb told the NPR affiliate.

From his rounds of the Commonwealth's hospitals, Tabb found that most organizations are both optimistic and anxious about the current and changing healthcare landscape.

"[A] lot of parties [are] trying to understand their own place in an ecosystem that hasn't yet formed," he said. The ecosystem Tabb mentioned refers to a larger system in which all benefit from shared risk models.

"We need to be part of a larger ecosystem so that we can do the things that are really appropriate to do here," he said. "We need to share in risk models so when there's benefit, we share in that as well."

Massachusetts is the state credited for being the model for national health reform, as well as the epicenter for hospital mergers, acquisitions and partnerships. Although much of healthcare change revolves around legislation, Tabb suggested that partnerships come from the need to move away from fee-for-service, as well as collaboration.

"It's not new that academic medical centers want to partner with physician groups and community hospitals, but the type of partnership we're talking about is very different from the types of partnerships we talked about in the past. In the past, we thought about, 'How do we get more referrals here downtown?'" Tabb said. "We need to learn to partner with others in a variety of different models. It's going to require huge change. ... Those of us that understand and change quickly will thrive."

For more information:
- read the WBUR interview

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