Breaking with tradition, American Healthcare Systems last month decided to accept for-profit organizations as members if they were tied closely to AmHS shareholders.
The 40 providers that own San Diego-based AmHS also redefined its mission as serving integrated systems instead of hospital chains.
The moves by AmHS, one of the nation's most powerful hospital alliances, reflect the rapid transformation of healthcare. Other alliances have taken similar steps as their members evolve from freestanding acute-care hospitals into more comprehensive healthcare providers.
For example, Westchester, Ill.-based Premier Health Alliance and Irving,
Texas-based VHA recently changed their names to eliminate references to hospitals.
AmHS will limit its for-profit members to those that are part of shareholders' local delivery networks, said Jack Bernard, an AmHS spokesman. That could include physician groups, home-care agencies or freestanding for-profit hospitals.
So far, no such organization has applied for AmHS membership.
In March, AmHS shareholders rejected the idea of admitting for-profit hospital chains. Publicly traded companies must respond to the concerns of the stock market and wouldn't fit in with other AmHS members, Mr. Bernard said.
Currently, AmHS represents more than 1,000 healthcare organizations, including hospitals, nursing homes and alternate-site facilities. The alliance had no estimate of how many new members might result from the change in policy.
Last year, the Catholic Health Association decided to admit for-profit organizations if they promote Roman Catholic values, support the CHA mission and have the approval of their local diocese (June 14, 1993, p. 19). To date, no for-profit group has joined the CHA. It will review its decision this month, a spokesman said.