Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Partners Goes Global

"In shift, Partners HealthCare seeking growth globally" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff  July 06, 2015

State officials may have dashed Partners HealthCare’s dreams of growing south of Boston — but not south of Shanghai.

Partners’ Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals, Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General, are increasing efforts to build on their international reputations and find business opportunities in China, the Middle East, and other regions of the world where growing and wealthy populations are demanding more and better medical care.

Partners, the state’s largest health system, so far has no plans to acquire or build its own hospitals overseas. But executives are on the hunt in international markets for contracts to develop medical programs, train doctors and nurses, and manage hospitals.

Partners’ increased focus on foreign projects comes as its efforts to expand in Massachusetts have foundered. A state judge earlier this year rejected a plan to allow the health care system to acquire hospitals north and south of Boston. Partners subsequentlyabandoned a bid to take over South Shore Hospital in Weymouth and put a proposed acquisition of Hallmark Health System of Medford on hold, indefinitely, under the threat of antitrust actions by Attorney General Maura Healey.

That was closely watched.

“Partners is running out of growth opportunities in Boston,” said Robert Field, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia who studies health care consolidation. “[Overseas] is a new untouched territory where they don’t have to worry about antitrust regulators. It’s a whole new playing field.”

Mass. General is now working to finalize a deal to jointly manage a hospital that a Chinese development company plans to establish on Hengqin island, near the gambling hot spot of Macau. The hospital is still two to three years from opening. Separately, Partners is designing the building and clinical programs for another hospital project in Shanghai, slated to open in 2017.

Brigham and Women’s, meanwhile, recently hired its first chief business development officer largely to target overseas markets. Steven Thompson founded the international business arm of Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore before coming to Brigham six months ago.

Thompson recently traveled to southern China with officials from Evergrande Group, one of China’s largest property development companies and a donor to Brigham and Harvard Medical School, to visit potential sites where Evergrande wants to build a hospital. Brigham would not be an investor in the hospital, but it has begun talks on consulting roles that may include developing medical programs and training executives and clinical workers, Thompson said.

Then all the war talk and tension is just that, right?

Brigham is also holding discussions about projects in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, but Thompson declined to name the parties since the talks are in early stages.

In addition, the hospital is scouting opportunities in several South American countries, such as Brazil and Peru.

“The reality is the traditional lines of revenue for [US] health care organizations are threatened,” Thompson said. “It makes good business sense always to diversify your revenue base. We need to reach out in more and different ways.”

Why would the healthy revenues be threatened? Obummercare? We all slated to be neglected to die, is that it? 

The $y$tem itself is $ick, if you know what I mean.

International programs offer Partners and other US health systems a way to increase revenues as they come under pressure from government and private insurers to control costs and prices at home, analysts say. For example, in Massachusetts, the state limits medical spending growth to 3.6 percent a year.

So they are gonna go overseas to gouge the wealth there!

Gulf nations, because of their wealth, and China, because of its huge population, rising middle and upper classes, and growing demand for better medical care, are particularly attractive markets for Partners and other US providers. In addition to management and consulting fees, the benefits of an increased presence in these and other nations include opportunities for Partners hospitals to leverage their international reputations and attract more foreign patients to Boston for treatment.

This is gro$$. 

About 2 percent of patients at Brigham and Mass. General travel from abroad.

“Our institutions want to be recognized as the best in global health care,” said Dr. Gilbert H. Mudge, chief executive of Partners HealthCare International.

Partners, which owns 10 hospitals in Massachusetts, has done various international projects for more than a decade, such as training nurses in New Delhi and designing obstetrical programs in Doha, Qatar. One of Partners’ latest projects is advising developers who want to build a teaching hospital in the African nation of Ivory Coast.

But Partners’ newest efforts involve larger projects and have greater significance, given the system’s limited ability to grow in Massachusetts.

International programs bring in roughly $10 million to $20 million per year, a tiny fraction of Partners’ overall $11 billion in revenue. Most of it goes toward supporting Partners’ hospitals in Massachusetts, Mudge said.

Doing business abroad can be complex, requiring hospital executives to grasp not just the health care industry in another country but also the politics and business regulations. It can take years for discussions to yield real projects.

Yet many hospitals are looking overseas. Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic have made forays abroad. Cleveland Clinic manages two hospitals in Abu Dhabi, including one that opened this year and bears the Cleveland Clinic name.

Boston Children’s Hospital recently hired a senior vice president to hone its international strategy. Children’s has held training programs for thousands of doctors and nurses around the world, including at a pediatric cancer hospital in Querétaro, Mexico. Children’s does not have an ownership stake in any facilities abroad but that “is one of many possibilities that we’re considering as we develop our international strategy,” said Margaret Coughlin, chief marketing officer.

“Most countries are very interested in building their medical institutions,” she said. “We’re interested in helping them make that happen.”


Look where they are contracting:

"Partners to close Union Hospital in Lynn; Consolidation expected to bolster Salem facility as part of a $200m plan" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff  June 30, 2015

Partners HealthCare said Tuesday that it will close its community hospital in Lynn as part of a $200 million plan to consolidate medical services on the North Shore over the next three years.

You are yesterday's news, American, and there is no more money to be made from you. Now die.

The plan calls for adding 58 beds at Salem Hospital while shuttering the 126-bed Union Hospital in Lynn, less than 6 miles away. Salem would also get a renovated emergency department and about 50 new beds for psychiatric patients.

Both facilities operate under Partners’ North Shore Medical Center umbrella.

The move to close Lynn’s hospital, since it was broached two years ago, has drawn opposition from local residents who don’t want the city of more than 90,000, including many low-income residents and seniors, to lose critical medical services. But officials at Partners and North Shore said the changes would result in better care for patients at a more modern and comprehensive campus in Salem.

Funny how people are always against hospitals closing, and the for-profit health $y$tems always say care will get better.

Hospital officials did not set a date for closing the Lynn hospital but said inpatient medical services would wind down over the next three years as the Salem campus is renovated and expanded. The emergency room in Lynn will stay open for at least three years, and a 16-doctor medical practice there will remain open and add physicians, they said.

They say they are contracting and expanding at the same time. How do they do that trick?

The plan will cut about 100 jobs from the 4,400-employee medical center, hospital executives said. They hope to achieve the reductions through attrition, rather than layoffs.

“I hope people will see this as a creation of a regional center that can care for everybody in our geography,” said Robert G. Norton, president of North Shore Medical Center. “We view this as a consolidation of care to a regional center that will provide better care for patients going forward.”

At least he called us patients.

The closing needs approval from the state Department of Public Health. A spokesman said the department will seek comments from the community before it makes a decision.

Lynn residents expressed disappointment and frustration that they were losing a hospital that has served them for more than a century.

Aikaterina Koudanis, who founded a grass-roots group that’s fighting to keep the hospital open, called on state officials to hold public hearings and carefully consider the impact of the closing before approving it....

Time for me to close it down and get moving.