Three Dallas hospitals and the local medical school have hired McKinsey & Co., an international consulting firm, to work with them on ways to collaborate but remain independent.
"We want to rationalize the campuses as best we can," said Ronald Anderson, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Parkland Memorial Hospital. Parkland is talking with Zale Lipshy University Hospital, Children's Medical Center of Dallas and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School about a wide range of collaboration strategies.
Zale Lipshy opened in 1989 as a private referral hospital for the University of Texas medical school. It's physically connected to Parkland, which is the tax-supported public hospital for Dallas County. Zale Lipshy, Parkland and Children's are all teaching hospitals for the University of Texas medical school in Dallas.
In some aspects, the three hospitals already have worked to avoid duplicating key services. For example, Parkland and Children's last month merged pediatric services. Zale Lipshy doesn't provide pediatric services.
Children's now is managing Parkland's 45-bed pediatric unit as well as its 10-bed pediatric intensive-care unit. The two units handle 3,000 admissions annually.
The decision to merge those services had been discussed for nearly a decade and eliminates confusion between the two hospitals, officials said.
When asked about the possibility of a merger of the three hospitals, Anderson said, "We have our eyes open to any opportunities." However, he noted significant obstacles would exist to merging county-owned Parkland with private hospitals like Zale Lipshy and Children's and a state organization like the medical school.
Anderson said the hospitals and medical school will explore whether they can assume risks together, such as contracting for patients in managed-care contracts.
When asked the cost of McKinsey's services, Anderson declined to estimate, but said it would be "substantial."