Academic medical centers are expanding community hospital networks — here's why

Community hospital networks that merge with academic medical centers can support various strategic goals for the larger entity and its community hospitals partners, Kaufman Hall outlined in a Jan. 12 analysis.

That support includes:

1. Improving access to the academic medical center's services, expanding its clinicians and branding into new markets and boosting capacity at the main campus for higher-acuity care.

2. Advancing the quality and scope of care at community hospital partner locations by implementing care design protocols and other best practices to the community hospital partners.

3. Decreasing the academic medical center's total cost of care by treating lower-acuity patients in a lower-cost community hospital setting.

4. Improving the academic medical center's research and academic standing by providing access to a wider patient population for clinical trials.

5. Providing a talent pipeline for physician recruitment and residency programs in community hospital settings.

6. Expanding access to capital and credit markets for community hospital partners.

Recent examples of these transactions include the University of Chicago Medicine gaining a controlling interest in AdventHealth's Great Lakes Region, which includes four suburban hospitals in Chicago; Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan Health's plan to acquire Lansing, Mich.-based Sparrow Health System; Charleston, W.Va.-based Thomas Health joining WVU Health System; and Olathe (Kan.) Health's plan to join the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City.

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