Healthcare goes national

Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale has signed a partnership agreement with Mass General in Boston to provide cancer care services. Total miles between the institutions: 1,478.

Partnerships like this exist across the country, but most are local; for example, a community hospital offers access to physicians at the academic medical center nearby. It works for both organizations: the AMC widens its reach and the community hospital is able to keep patients in its system.

Despite efforts by the likes of Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic who have transplanted their models to different geographic areas, healthcare has largely remained a locally delivered service. Even massive healthcare systems like Catholic Healthcare West or Kaiser generally allow individual hospitals to operate relatively independently. It’s been my view, up to this point, that healthcare would remain local, a national presence being rare.

It’s actually pretty interesting to think about how local healthcare has actually remained, especially when compared to counterparts in other industries. National chains have been developing since McDonalds started doing it in the 1950s.

But partnership agreements like the one between Holy Cross and Mass General could change that. Who wouldn’t choose, if they could, the Mayo Clinic for neurosurgery? Or the Cleveland Clinic for heart treatment? Or Johns Hopkins for a urology procedure? Each of these institutions are ranked first in those respective specialties according to US News.

The point is that Holy Cross and Mass General are onto something. Think of your local community hospital offering the expertise of the nation’s best. It really could be a collection of partnerships with the best around the country. It is especially likely if a particular hospital trails the local competition: the other guy is pretty good at heart care, but we’ve teamed with the Cleveland Clinic to bring you great heart care.

Of course there many obstacles to overcome, namely whether local physicians would be interested in such a model.

But the thought is intriguing. It’s an attempt at physical API.

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