How affiliations can help community hospitals

The changing nature of the healthcare system means changes in the relationship between large chains and smaller community hospitals as well, according to an executive roundtable discussion published in Becker's Hospital Review.

For example, at Brentwood, Tennessee-based TriStar Health, leaders create strategies personalized to the needs of individual rural hospitals and communities in the market, TriStar Vice President of Network Affiliates Charlotte Burns told Becker's. TriStar's main focus offers community hospitals nonexclusive affiliations with several service options, according to Burns.

"The rural hospitals can select which services they're interested in," she said. "We're providing a lot of telemedicine services, primarily emergent stroke and behavioral health consults, and looking to expand into other service lines."

At United Regional Health Care System, based in Wichita Falls, Texas, affiliation is a way to stem the flow of patients out of primary and secondary service, said United President and CEO Phyllis Cowling. These affiliations have other benefits as well, she said. For example, the system has a clinical affiliation agreement with Bowie Memorial Hospital, and can both advertise their connection with United Regional and continue to trade on their own existing brand.

Similarly, La Grange, Texas-based St. Mark's Medical Center's use of its affiliate's name, St. David's HealthCare in Austin, is "an immediate credibility factor for us," said CEO Shane Kernell. Beyond simple name recognition, the affiliation also gives St. Mark's access to St. David's policies, procedures and best practices, Kernell told Becker's.

For community hospitals struggling due to decreasing patient volumes and reimbursements, deals with larger providers are key for survival, FierceHealthFinance previously reported. Indeed, healthcare leaders have said hospital affiliations are the future of the healthcare industry. "Affiliation arrangements can be successful when both parties have the same goal of preserving community-based healthcare," Wayne Griffith, CEO of Princeton Community Hospital in West Virginia, told Becker's, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the discussion