For Alexian and Loyola, their effort involves growing their pool of pediatric specialists, such as experts in cancer and cardiology. Pediatric specialists are hard to come by and typically gravitate toward large children's hospitals like Lurie that specialize in providing complex care, experts say.
Teaming up “gives us the ability to have a deeper bench, so to speak, in each of the subspecialties so that we can provide greater access to patients,” said Daniel Post, a senior vice president at Loyola and chief business development officer.
“It's competition. There's no doubt about it,” said Doug Fenstermaker, a Chicago-based vice president of healthcare at Warbird Consulting Partners LLC. “There will be fewer patients going to Lurie” if Alexian Brothers and Loyola are successful, he said.
A spokeswoman for Lurie declined to comment.
Their task won't be easy.
Lurie is the leading pediatric hospital in the Chicago area, with 24% of the market in 2012, according to a March report from Fitch Ratings. No other hospital had more than 11%. Of Lurie's large medical staff, about 450 are subspecialists. The facility has two major selling points for patients and physicians alike: its two-year-old, gleaming 23-story building in downtown Streeterville, and its academic partnership with Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, where physicians conduct research.
Lurie already has been broadening its reach in the suburbs, affiliating with hospitals across the area to keep some pediatric patients close to home while bringing the sickest children downtown.
But there's room for more competition.
Alexian Brothers and Loyola “probably think that people in their market and maybe north … would stop (going downtown for care) if they developed a strong reputation, or a reputation approaching that of Lurie Chlidren's,” Mr. Fenstermaker said.