Community support, less red tape keep hospitals independent

Twelve hospitals in South Dakota intend to stay independent because of increased community support and less bureaucracy, reported The Argus Leader.

In addition to autonomy and decision-making power, independent hospitals have found that actions like upgrades and renovations happen faster at the local board level. For instance, 25-bed Madison Community Hospital will complete and open its new health center by as soon as 2014, the article noted.

"You don't have to go through a lot of red tape to get things done," Shane Andersen, a broker associate with real estate agency Gustafson, Krogman and Associates told The Argus Leader.

Independent status also gives hospitals the ability to establish progressive programs and services. As an independent, Brookings Health System offers a volunteer doula program to comfort expectant mothers before, during and after delivery that it might not otherwise have been able to do under a hospital operator.

Similarly, several independent general hospitals in the greater Philadelphia region are bucking the healthcare consolidation trend. According to the merger holdouts, consolidation isn't necessary for improved care and the community hospitals can deliver the highest-quality healthcare as independents, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

But for independents exploring mergers and acquisitions to stay in business, they must consider their current culture and how a partnership may affect it, according to hospital executives at the Becker's Hospital Review annual meeting last week. After defining the culture, values and mission of their own organizations and of the potential partners, independent hospitals must determine whether uniting the cultures will create a stronger healthcare organization, Becker's Hospital Review reported.

"If you want to remain independent, [ask] what makes you unique enough to sustain that,"Chicago's Sinai Health System President and CEO Alan H. Channing said.

To learn more:
- read the Argus Leader article
- here's the Becker's article