A Case Study in Healthcare Integration: Hospital, Physician and Provider Strategy to Increase Patient Volume

June 1, 2010

With the demands of the healthcare reform bill, many hospitals, physicians and providers want to know what a successful integrated delivery system looks like. In a season of challenging economic times and management changes, to successfully achieve hospital-physician integration can set systems apart, and ultimately help increase patient volume.

Since healthcare integration attempts tend to fail more often than succeed, it’s vital to study someone who has done it right. St. Jude Medical Center is an excellent case study of a successfully integrated health network. This article published by Robert J. Fraschetti, the former CEO of St. Jude, and Michael Sugarman, M.D., president of St. Jude Heritage Medical, provided great insight on their integration strategy.

The premise of their article is this: shared governance and decision-making help healthcare systems thrive.

With increasing patient volume as my focus, I translated the article like this: healthcare systems have to adapt to reform in order to make increasing patient volume a sustainable objective.

Whether you’re a physician practice considering affiliation or a hospital leader or board member, there is something to learn from St. Jude’s success. While other integrated networks have collapsed, their integration has proven to be the exception. I encourage you to read more on their story, but here’s a quick snapshot of their strategic ideology.

Principles for Successful Integration

  • Interdependence is key.
  • Relationships are primary.
  • Trust takes time to develop.
  • Recognize and respect cultural differences.
  • Accountability and transparency are essential to maintain performance.
  • Medical groups must understand that the hospital has other relationships.