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How does the Healthcare Organization Approach Competition and Collaboration?

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Competition is a healthy thing, even in the healthcare industry. However, when a patient’s health is at stake, competition in healthcare has to at some point become collaboration.

One thing you may want to get a sense of from an organization that is offering you a job is its approach to competition and its general attitude about collaboration with other facilities. Is it an adversarial competitive environment? Or does the competition among healthcare organizations in the area exist more for the sake of bettering the community’s access to quality healthcare?

Recently, I wrote an article for Healthcare Executive Exchange Magazine on Gramercy Surgery Center, a freestanding, Article 28 facility. Gramercy was founded in 2006 by Katy R. Chiang, chief executive officer and president. It is operated and managed by Jeffrey Flynn, chief operating officer and administrator, who joined the center when it was established. Located in New York City, Gramercy is one of Manhattan’s leading multispecialty centers.

In spite of its status and success, Gramercy is not an adversary to hospitals, Flynn said. Rather, it is an alternative and an assist to hospitals.

Nevertheless, hospitals are resistant to the idea of ambulatory care, and Medicare is proposing cuts that will handicap single-specialty centers. With 14 specialties, Gramercy is well-equipped to convince hospitals of its worth to them while weathering the many storms of modern healthcare.

Flynn said there’s good camaraderie among all of the surgery centers in New York and with certain hospitals as well. If Gramercy doesn’t have something, then it can send a patient to the center that does.

This frees the organization to focus on doing the programs that are right for it.

“Again, it comes down to looking at costs and looking at where you can share,” Flynn said. “The original centers in New York, we all talk to each other. Because at the end of the day if I need to borrow something or if they need to borrow something, I want to know that they’re down the road and ready to do it. The same with the hospitals.”

If clinics get involved in subterfuge, where they’re stealing patients and doctors from other centers, then they won’t last long.

“We’re all facing a crisis in New York, not so much if you’re multispecialty, but I know the endoscopy centers have been hit, given the Joan Rivers situation,” he said. “And I have to tell you the one thing is: If you’re not following the rules, that’s just shame on you.”

This is something that the national companies who are coming into New York have yet to grasp, he said. They don’t understand the sharing culture among the centers or how to handle contracts with insurers or even how to deal with the department of health.

“Within the healthcare industry in general, we are really the alternative to the future that’s going to be helpful to hospitals,” Flynn said. “We should see ourselves as allies to hospitals. It’s time to really educate and collaborate with the insurance companies. At the end of the day, there is still going to be a certain aspect that’s going to be outside the hospital system. I really think you can survive and thrive outside the hospital system, but you don’t have to be an enemy of the hospital systems. You can work with them.”

As physicians who are looking for jobs, what kind of a competitive and collaborative attitude do you want from your next employer?

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