Health execs expect more domestic, overseas partnerships

More than a third of surveyed California healthcare executives expect healthcare reform to prompt industry partnerships, but another third say more partnerships were on the horizon anyway.

Whether prompted by healthcare reform or by other forces, the results indicate healthcare partnerships are an emerging industry trend, says the Adaptive Business Leaders Organization, a healthcare executive networking and peer-advisory group based in Santa Ana, Calif., which conducted the survey in July.

Providers, payers and suppliers will likely partner, Adaptive Business Leaders Organization President Mimi Grant said. Of the 249 respondents, only 10 percent said they were "well positioned with no further need to partner," according to an ABL announcement of the findings.

Healthcare providers were far more likely than most of their peers to anticipate partnerships, with 34 percent expecting more partnerships and 30 percent saying they were already on track to expand partnerships.

Ample opportunities exist, for example, for U.S. providers to partner with providers in developing countries to dramatically improve their healthcare capabilities, Johns Hopkins Medicine International CEO Steven Thompson wrote Monday in Becker's Hospital Review.

The "governments and private organizations looking to provide these improvements often find it difficult to gather enough local expertise to meet such a large-scale need and, therefore, seek help from those who have done it before," Thompson wrote. "This reality opens the door for highly rewarding opportunities for U.S. hospital systems to partner with overseas counterparts on ambitious healthcare projects."

Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine has had international partnerships in a dozen or more countries for 15 years, but Thompson warns there are challenges in addition to rewards. Among them:

  • Demonstrating to potential overseas partners why your healthcare organization is a better partner than others already known as industry leaders.
  • Navigating complex "social, operational and financial challenges" that can vary significantly from those typically faced stateside, including adapting to local cultures and constraints.

"We learned over time that medical practices are closely tied to a region's unique traditions, beliefs, aspirations and experiences, and they can be deeply ingrained," he said. "There is only one way to deal with these differences: Learn what they are, understand where they come from, respect them and then customize your work to accommodate them."

To learn more:
-here's the ABL announcement
-read Thompson's commentary