No Room for a Dog-Eat-Dog World in Health Care

07/24/2013 01:48 pm ET | Updated Sep 23, 2013
  • Tanya Abreu President, Spirit of Women Hospital Network, author, public speaker, health strategist

In the world of business, we are taught that staying ahead of the competition is the key to success -- even if the tactics we use are fierce and intense. We believe in "independence" as the hallmark of free enterprise and view the concept of "merger and acquisition" as loss.

But what if a different key could turn an even more profitable and satisfying success lock? What if we take a page from the playbook of humanity and embrace PARTNERSHIP AND COOPERATION as the critical foundation for market leadership in health care?

In the 15 years I have led the Spirit of Women Health Network, as well as our community health initiatives at leading hospitals around the country, one quality indicator for success stands taller than the rest -- collective impact, the power of partnering with others to make a real difference. I have even seen competing hospitals band together to sponsor an event and agree to market themselves without stepping on each other. (One hospital stressed its heart services for women, another its gynecologic surgery expertise.) The result: each hospital became a "love mark" in a designated specialty and the event was twice the size and twice as impressive to potential patients.

Letting go of the need to be solo is a difficult, but amazing experience. For us at Spirit of Women-affiliated hospitals, we partner with health care industry companies to educate millions of women about topics that aren't necessarily common to the media: women and atrial fibrillation, vaginal atrophy, rheumatoid arthritis and deep vein thrombosis.

Partnership allows you to accelerate your business by pooling resources and collective energy to create something that your company could not have done on its own quite as well. Yes, there is trade off -- you have to negotiate your business goal and share the stage with other agendas, but the payoff is an amplification of your brand in a new, memorable way.

In today's world of health care reform, we are calling out for hospitals, insurers, doctors, pharmaceutical and medical device companies and consumers to work together on a universally accessible, accountable and meaningful system of American health care. Authentic partnership, with a shared vision and redefined business goals is the only way to achieve a more efficient and economical model.

Besides building better business, it is just plain encouraging to have partners who support you, respect your goals and help you to achieve them as you help with theirs. Yes, it's a bit different than a dog-eat-dog corporate model, but in the end, a well-fed pack of dogs resting comfortably is by far a more enjoyable and healthy experience.

When hospitals and doctors meet, they don't have to compete. In the new paradigm of health care, networks of providers will pioneer programs, launch partnerships for innovation and celebrate improved outcomes in community health. This week, I am inspired by Spirit-affiliated hospitals at "The New Elegance of Women's Health," here in Las Vegas, as more than 150 hospitals commit to transparent, inclusive and patient-driven models for the future of health care.

Please share with me any health care collective impact models at work in your community. PARTNER AWAY!

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