Healthcare leaders say hospital affiliation is future of industry

With hospital mergers, acquisitions and partnerships on the rise, oversupply of healthcare resources will push more health systems and organizations to examine affiliations.

Becker's Hospital Review spoke with healthcare leaders to discuss what hospitals should look for in affiliation partners. 

"Clinical affiliations are an alternative to mergers, providing a low level of integration. Also, clinical affiliations provide a vehicle for the enhancement and integration of healthcare services," Wayne Griffith, CEO of Princeton Community Hospital in West Virginia, told Becker's. "Affiliation arrangements can be successful when both parties have the same goal of preserving community-based healthcare."

Doug McMillan, CEO of West Park Hospital in Wyoming; said rural hospitals especially consider affiliation more often because of the lack of resources available in rural communities, as well as access to more capital. However his hospital hasn't needed to formally affiliate yet because of its already strong relationship with larger hospitals in the area. Stapleton, whose organization affiliated with University of Rochester Medicine two years ago, said risk-based contracts are too much risk for a community hospital to enter into without the backing of a larger system that can have a contract for larger populations.

Michelle Conger, senior vice president and CSO of OSF Healthcare System in Illinois, said hospitals look for affiliation partners that have access to information technology, care management and health analytics capabilities. Hospitals should also look for partners with similar cultures, missions and values. "Never ignore culture," she added. "Regardless of the type of affiliation you're considering, a traditional merger and acquisition or independent affiliation, success is largely defined by shared culture and vision for where healthcare is going in the future."

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