Six hospitals forming a network in the Kansas City area expect to select a consultant later this month to help structure the organization.
Hiring a consultant is a key step in the network's development, said Gordon Docking, a spokesman for one hospital involved, 250-bed Saint Joseph Health Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The hospitals, all not-for-profit, then will decide how to carry out joint contracting. Although they prefer to remain operationally and financially independent, a merger is a possibility, Mr. Docking said.
The other five hospitals involved are 301-bed Bethany Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan.; 159-bed Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Mo.; 153-bed Liberty (Mo.) Hospital; 207-bed St. Mary's Hospital of Blue Springs (Mo.); and 325-bed Shawnee Mission (Kan.) Medical Center.
The network has been under discussion for several months. It stems not only from the changes occurring throughout the healthcare system but also from local competitive pressures.
It would be the fourth network in the Kansas City area. Health Midwest, a hospital system based there, operates 13 hospitals with 1,864 staffed beds. Louisville, Ky.-based Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. operates two hospitals in the Kansas City area.
Another network, dubbed the Jayhawk Health Alliance, formed late last year between 464-bed University of Kansas Medical Center and four independently operated hospitals outside of Kansas City. Those hospitals are 178-bed Lawrence (Kan.) Memorial Hospital; 22-bed Miami County Hospital, Paola, Kan.; 130-bed Olathe (Kan.) Medical Center; and 36-bed Ransom Memorial Hospital, Ottawa, Kan.