Hospital Affiliations Trends

Hospital & Service Line Affiliations for Community Hospitals

It only makes sense that I would kick off Valentine’s Day with a blog post about a community gaining access to a new, world class heart program!

Hospital and service line affiliations: Is this the future for community hospitals? For many, it is reality today. My firm, Jennings, already markets academic medical center affiliations for a number of community hospitals including MetroWest Medical Center, Lowell General Hospital, Signature Heathcare Brockton Hospital, and Quincy Medical Center, to name a few. Within these affiliations, the patients of the community hospitals gain access to advanced medical care in their own community while the academic medical center extends its reach into suburban markets. Last week, another of our clients announced an exciting new affiliation: Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, SC is partnering with Duke Medicine to develop a new heart program in the Midland’s of South Carolina. Decades of experience in caring for patients with heart disease have established Duke as one of the world’s leading programs in cardiac care, research, and education.

And South Carolina is certainly one state that can benefit from access to advancements in the treatment of heart disease! Cardiovascular disease accounts for 1 out of every 3 deaths in South Carolina. More South Carolinians die from cardiovascular disease than die from cancer, pneumonia, the flu and vehicle crashes combined. And Cardiovascular disease deaths increase with age and South Carolina’s population of people over age 60 is increasing. Meanwhile, Lexington Medical Center has been the largest hospital in the state to not have a heart program. It operates the second largest Emergency Department in South Carolina, treating more than 90,000 ER patients each year. In addition, the hospital operates two busy diagnostic catheterization labs. So the addition of the new heart program and the affiliation with the Duke Heart Center come as welcome news.

Through its affiliation, Lexington Medical Center will benefit from Duke’s clinical expertise and services to build a premier, comprehensive heart program. Duke University Hospital, recognized as one of the top ten heart hospitals in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and the only top ten program in the Southeast, will lend its expertise in helping to find the best cardiovascular surgeons and cardiac anesthesiologists in the nation to work at Lexington Medical Center. Duke will assist with the recruitment and training of nurses and staff, design of the open heart surgery operating room, implementation of policies and procedures as well as comprehensive oversight of quality and development for all cardiovascular services at Lexington Medical Center. And, Lexington Medical Center will have access to the latest advances in cardiovascular care.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the press conference announcing the new affiliation. Even though it involved 8 hours of driving the day before I left for a business trip to San Francisco, it was an event I would not miss. My firm has worked with Lexington Medical Center for the last four years to secure a CON for their heart program, and this announcement would help to punctuate Lexington Medical Center’s success! In my business, opportunities for celebration are not nearly as frequent as they ought to be. So I try to savor them in when they do occur. Years of hard work lead to brief moments of joy!

Here’s a video excerpt from the press conference. This cut features Jennifer Wilson, Lexington Medical Center’s Manager of Public Relations, and Mike Biediger, Lexington Medical Center’s visionary CEO.

Representing Duke Medicine at the press conference was Dr. Harry R. Phillips III, Associate Director, Duke Heart Center and Chief Medical Officer, Duke Heart Network. What follows is a video capturing his comments:

Are affiliations the way of the future for community hospitals, allowing them to deliver an unprecedented level of specialty care? Just based on my experience, it certainly looks that way. Here’s a link to HealthLeaders’ coverage of the affiliation between Lexington Medical Center and Duke Medicine.

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

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