In Akron, Ohio, the city's three competing integrated delivery systems—Summa Health System, Akron Children's Hospital and Akron General Health System—are collaborating to benefit the communities they serve.
They've partnered with local academic institutions to form the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, known as ABIA, which is focused on patient-centered innovation to spur local and national job development and improved community health.
As an Akron native, I've seen my hometown—similar to other Rust Belt cities—struggle significantly because of the decline of manufacturing. This magnified the need to move away from industries such as tire and rubber that previously drove the city's population and economic growth.
The saying goes that “necessity is the mother of invention.” ABIA President and CEO Dr. Frank Douglas, a 30-year healthcare industry veteran, takes it a step further. “If necessity is the mother of invention,” he says, “then dire necessity is the father of innovation.”
To address its dire necessity of improving economic conditions, Akron is reinventing itself through innovative efforts such as the ABIA. And the backbone of the ABIA is collaboration—three competing health systems willing to put aside their competitive differences to ensure opportunities for the development of innovative, life-saving medical devices.
In Detroit, another city hit hard by the economy, traditional competitors Henry Ford Health System and Detroit Medical Center are partnering with Cardinal Health, a pharmaceutical and healthcare product distributor, to revitalize part of the city's midtown landscape. Cardinal is building a distribution center that will provide medical products to Henry Ford and DMC, and the partnership is projected to bring hundreds of jobs to Detroit while reducing costs for both health systems and Cardinal. Yet again we have an example of an uncommon collaboration among organizations with a common goal—improving the health and welfare of their community.
Another strategy to push innovation is for research and information to be transparent and freely available. While data in isolation has utility, it's the ability to share openly with others, tinker with the problem and build upon success that has the power to initiate meaningful change. For the UW researchers, if they kept the protein problem secret, no one would have been able to contribute to the solution.
McLeod Health, based in Florence, S.C., benefits greatly from transparent data sharing as a part of QUEST, a successful national performance improvement collaborative run by Premier in partnership with 337 hospitals across more than 40 states. In a recent effort to reduce costs, the health system analyzed cost data across all hospitals in the collaborative for different surgical procedures, such as a total hip replacement.
They uncovered examples where the cost of some orthopedic and cardiac procedures were significantly lower at other hospitals in the project, but with similar clinical outcomes. So they reached out directly to the collaborative's higher-performing facilities to learn how they were achieving these cost and quality successes.
McLeod found that cost differences were often supply chain-related, which led them to re-evaluate medical devices and supplies. This re-evaluation played a key role in helping the health system reduce surgical costs for several cardiac and orthopedic procedures by up to 22%.