Rival Virginia hospitals see advantages in partnerships over competition

Two competing hospitals in Virginia saw a need for thoracic surgery services in their area. Instead of competing with one another to take over, they found it more profitable to collaborate.

Bon Secours Virginia and VCU Health continue to treat one another as rivals in some areas, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch, but their partnership, Bon Secours-VCU Health Thoracic Surgery Associates, allows the organizations’ clinicians to collaborate in order to fulfill the community’s needs. The rival hospitals may wind up in additional partnerships as well.

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“We are right now studying a good seven or eight possible activities that we can do together,” Toni R. Ardabell, CEO of Bon Secours Virginia Health System, told the publication.

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In some markets, massive players in the healthcare space have sought bigger mergers to outpace competing organizations. Elsewhere, however, collaborations have provided opportunities on a more manageable scale.

More specifically, the Affordable Care Act’s focus on accountable care organizations has led to a more inviting legal environment for targeted collaborative efforts among hospitals, according to Louis Rossiter, director of the health sector program at the College of William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business. “That has emboldened hospitals and health systems to collaborate more narrowly on specific services without fear of antitrust actions,” he told the Times-Dispatch.

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In some cases, collaborations have extended beyond hospital organizations to encompass a mix of hospitals and individual physicians. The recent launch of the AHA Physician Alliance seeks to foster those types of partnerships in part as a way to improve care and close gaps in rural and underserved areas.

As for VCU Health and Bon Secours, the article states the two rival hospitals are looking to partner with other local organizations on a pediatric asthma project, through which they expect to coordinate emergency department protocols.