2020 Trends from SHSMD: Collaborations and Partnerships

By The SHSMD Team posted 5 days ago

This is another one of SHSMD's blogs exploring top trends for 2020. Catch up on the series here.

Collaborations and partnerships are a core competency for health care strategists. Hospitals and health systems are collaborating with almost every imaginable kind of organization. These include but certainly are not limited to tech companies, government entities; employers; community service providers; educational organizations; law enforcement, and other health care organizations. Hospitals also continue to collaborate with out of industry organizations like the ride-sharing companies, grocery store chains, and retail spaces to create greater accessibility. There’s even a collaboration to offer a virtual art museum for hospital patients and branding collaborations with sports teams.

Amy Stevens, vice president of marketing and communications, Tidelands Health notes, “As a community health system, we consider partnerships essential to the fulfillment of our mission. We partner with literally dozens of organizations in myriad ways – from formal joint ventures with post-acute care providers to public-private affiliations with government agencies, non-profits and churches to address social determinants of health.

“For instance, we’ve partnered with a local sculpture garden to offer ‘A Walk in the Garden,’ through which our family medicine physicians offer patients walking ‘prescriptions’ that are redeemable for a 30-day garden admission pass. We work with area employers to present no-cost health programs and screenings to their employees. And we have aligned with the local university’s football program to offer special seating accommodations for older adults who may have mobility challenges.

“We look at the health and wellness needs of our region and determine strategically how we can best meet those needs – either on our own or, more often, through partnership with like-minded organizations.”

In a survey for Futurescan 2018-2023, seven out of ten hospital and health system strategy leaders said that they expect their organizations to increase collaboration with other providers and payers on population health over the next five years. In the survey for Futurescan 2020-2025, almost 20 percent of health care executives said that they already have at least three vertical partnerships and fully 20 percent said that they already base their growth strategy around partnerships, mergers or acquisitions than on direct patient recruitment.

Futurescan survey results
In the same edition of Futurescan, Ninfa M. Saunders, D.H.A., FACHE, describes the necessity of collaboration to address the deepest-rooted problems in health care delivery. “Partnerships may be the only way we can successfully disrupt a health care system that is in dire need of change.”

Collaborations range in complexity from simple networks to coalitions to full mergers or acquisitions.

The principles of effective collaboration include:

  • Understanding the nature of a challenge or opportunity.
  • Understanding the nature of a challenge or opportunity.
  • Analyzing one’s own organization’s culture, strengths and weaknesses as they relate to that opportunity.
  • Knowledge of the other stakeholders in that challenge or opportunity.
  • Communicating openly with stakeholders and including them in decisions.
  • Welcoming diversity of approaches.
  • Executing effectively.
  • Embracing the disciplines of measurement and evaluation.

Erase boundaries of business

SHSMD’s Bridging Worlds: The Future Role of the Health Care Strategist explores collaborations and partnerships as a way to erase boundaries of business. Recommendations include:

  • Develop technology investment roadmaps.
  • Seek partnership over competition.
  • Apply different planning models.
  • Align social and business missions.
  • Design ecosystems. 
You can find more detail in Bridging Worlds, which is a free download. 

Strategic questions to ask

  • What is our organization's priority for this trend? Where are we now? If there is a gap, what are the steps to bridge it?
  • Consider what solutions exist in other industries. What solutions could be more effectively delivered through partnerships or collaborations?
  • What are some offerings that could potentially satisfy our customers’ needs? 

For more information and inspiration, check out SHSMD's full collection of resources on collaboration and partnerships. SHSMD's tools on the topic include presentations, articles and case studies, webinar recordings and reports.

For insight into five-year trends, read SHSMD’s Futurescan, free for SHSMD members.

Want to discuss this trend, ask colleagues about who's doing what, validate your thinking with peers or share your perspectives? Please join the discussions on MySHSMD, a lively members-only discussion list.