Hospitals that are a part of the Huntsville Hospital Health System are in a better position to survive financially, attract new doctors and have more purchasing power for medical technology.
In the past three years, every hospital in Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties have joined the network.
"All of the hospitals working together gives us strength in many areas," said Dean Griffin, president of Decatur Morgan Hospital, which includes the campuses at Parkway Medical Center and Decatur General Hospital. "The greater financial and operational strength help us as a system to attract good physician candidates. If the hospital is strong, the physicians' practices become stronger and more stable."
Kyle Buchanan, chief executive officer of Lawrence Medical Center, said his facility is pleased to be involved in a not-for-profit network in north Alabama.
"We are in the process of sifting through all of the benefits and wrapping our arms around what we can do together that makes the most sense to us," he said. "One of the first things we looked at is our supply chain, how we order supplies from paper towels to medical equipment. It really helps out when we use the system's buying power."
Griffin said not only do the hospitals working together assist in getting the best prices for medical technology, but the partnership prevents duplication of services.
"By coordinating with each other, we make sure we're offering consistency of services across the system to the extent that we can, and also the level of services needed in each community."
The affiliation, Griffin said, also allows hospitals to offer a wide range of physician specialities throughout the system.
"If the hospital doesn't have a particular specialty or the community doesn't have it, there may be an independent practitioner in the community, who likely practices at that hospital, who could provide it," Griffin said. "And if it isn't available in Decatur, for example, it may be available in Huntsville."
Griffin, who became CEO at Decatur General in July 2008 and president of Decatur Morgan in September 2012, said the affiliation with Huntsville is "definitely positive for everyone concerned. In today's challenging health care environment, more and more hospitals are finding that they need to work together in a system environment to be successful."
Buchanan said Lawrence Medical Center also has been able to utilize some of Huntsville Hospital's information technology structure to prevent duplication.
"Instead of buying a new server, we try to see if those resources are available in the system first before we purchase," he said. "At the end of the day, something we thought we might have to buy, we may not have to."
Noting his hospital is about to embark upon a renovation project, Buchanan said the work will be embellished because of the affiliation.
"We have identified with the Huntsville system certain experts who have done this project time and time again," he said. "We have agreed for those individuals to come in and help us. Instead of having one person to lead our renovation project, we have three."
Ronnie Thomas can be reached at 256-340-2438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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