Sharp Healthcare has formed a joint venture with nearby University of California at San Diego to create a single program for liver transplants.
The collaboration will allow the larger system to ease the transfer of its end-stage liver disease patients to UCSD for transplantation and keep more liver-transplant patients in its network.
Sharp, which has five hospitals in the San Diego area, has nearly 30% of the market share in the region and already treats a large number of patients before and after their transplants, said Dan Gross, Sharp's executive vice president of hospital operations.
The system had initially considered starting its own transplant program but chose to partner instead. Larger-volume centers tend to have higher quality, Gross said, and there are only so many donor livers available for transplants.
San Diego has two hospitals that perform liver transplants, UCSD and Scripps Green Hospital.
The size of a transplant program can often determine how fast a waiting list moves because transplant centers with longer waiting lists typically receive more organs for consideration, said Laura Aguiar, principal at consulting firm Transplant Solutions. In turn, more patients are then attracted to the larger program. —Beth Kutscher