3 relationships small and midsize hospitals need to thrive 

With limited resources and less margin for error, small and midsize hospitals often feel the healthcare industry's pressures much more acutely. They are, for example, fewer physicians away from losing a whole department than large hospitals or health systems. 

However, a panel of small and midsize hospital leaders credited these constraints for engendering a spirit of collaboration and problem-solving within their organizations and communities. Speaking on a panel called "How Small and Midsize Hospitals Can Thrive and Deliver Great Quality" at the Becker's Hospital Review 8th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable in November in Chicago, the panelists discussed how building relationships with various stakeholders has helped them stay afloat in today's healthcare environment. 

The panelists were Emmett Schuster, former interim CEO of Willapa Harbor Hospital in South Bend, Wash., and Steven Airhart, group CEO of Hartgrove Behavioral Health System and Garfield Park Behavioral Hospital in Chicago. 

Here are the three key relationships they cited:

1. Patient population relationship. Patient relationships matter at all hospitals, but at small and midsize hospitals, having a deep knowledge of patient needs and understanding the social fabric of the community goes a long way to not only creating a great patient experience, but ensuring a hospital can anticipate needs and deliver on them. 

2. Community organizations. Panelists noted the importance of also building good relationships with local police departments, mental health organizations and even churches, to create a stronger referral network. 

3. Other hospitals and health systems. Affiliating with other systems, particularly in larger markets, can also be a smart move for small or midsize hospitals. For example, partnering with a medical school in a larger market to offer graduate medical education can help bring a pipeline of physicians to the community and expand the services available for patients. 

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