Steward Health Care goes international, partners with Malta's government to operate hospitals

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The global trend continues as Steward Health Care enters a deal with the Mediterranean nation of Malta. (Pixabay)

Steward Health Care System, the nation's largest private hospital operator, is expanding its influence overseas by partnering with the government of Malta. 

Steward will operate a number of public hospitals in the European nation, according to an announcement. It will also build and operate facilities on campus at the Malta location of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry while providing access to its hospitals for students.

"Steward's innovative care model has successfully helped patients across the United States receive high-quality care while reducing medical expenses," Steward CEO Ralph de la Torre, M.D., said in the announcement. "We look forward to implementing this new model." 

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Boston-based Steward officially became the largest private hospital operator in the U.S. last fall when its merger with IASIS Healthcare was finalized. The system runs 36 hospitals located in 10 states, and in its expanded form is expected to bring in $8 billion in revenue this year. 

Joseph Muscat, Malta's prime minister, said in the announcement that Steward is "the ideal partner" in bolstering medical care in the country. 

"Steward Health Care shares our same vision for the future of healthcare in Malta," Muscat said. 

Steward's push into Malta is the latest such move in the trend of U.S. hospitals and health systems looking to expand their reach abroad. Cleveland Clinic is eyeing partnerships in China, the first potential deal under the system's global affiliate program. 

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Cleveland Clinic is not the only health system that sees China as a potential site for expansion. City of Hope National Medical Center, a 193-bed cancer hospital in Los Angeles, joined forces with a number of cancer centers in China, where its cancer experts provide second-opinion services. It has also partnered with a private company to oversee cancer care at a new hospital in Shenzen, one of the largest cities in China. 

Massachusetts General Hospital is also playing a role in building a new hospital in Shanghai, a move its president, Peter L. Slavin, M.D., says offers new educational opportunities. 

UCLA Health, Stanford University Medical Center and UPMC are also studying international opportunities, with a particular focus on Asia and the Middle East. UPMC also operates a cancer center in Ireland, while providers including Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic are offering international consulting services. 

"It both generates an additional revenue source and it has been very important for our reputation," said Chuck Bogosta, president of UPMC international.