Case study:Hospital creates patient-sharing network

If you're a provider in the Boston suburbs, you stand a chance of losing your patients to the high-prestige hospitals and specialists found in the city--which houses, among other institutions, Harvard-affiliated Brigham & Women's Hospital. To fight back against such competition, one Brockton, Mass.-based hospital has created a community-based network of doctors who share patient network of doctors who share patient medical records and databases. The idea is that the new network, Signature Healthcare, will offer patients everything they need, from primary care to alternative health, and allow doctors to refer within the system.

Signature Health will include not only the hospital's existing medical group affiliates, including a women's health practice, a primary care group, a specialist practice and a school of nursing, but also Bridgewater Goddard Park Medical Associates, the largest multi-site, multi-specialty group in the area, which it just acquired. All told, Signature will now have more than 550 affiliated providers around Brockton.

Signature plans to build efficiencies into the system, as well. The groups will work from a shared standard of care, and the same prescription drug formulary. Also, the different groups will merge their separate labs into one, saving an immediate $1 million. On top of that, the groups will share all patient information through an electronic medical record system.

To learn more about Signature:
- read this article from The Boston Globe