Collaboration in healthcare is a hot topic around the world. And many people believe that more collaboration will lead to better healthcare. We disagree with this statement. We believe collaboration between healthcare providers can lead to a more sustainable healthcare system where patients get high-value care, but collaboration is a means, not a goal. Additionally, we believe that collaboration in healthcare is very complex. This additional complexity needs to be handled with care.
Our vision for collaboration in healthcare
As such, the healthcare system is already complex with many stakeholders. Therefore, we must be careful not to add complexity to an already complex system. When looking at primary care, there are over a dozen professions. They all interact at some point in a care path with the patient and each other. In many countries, primary care consists mainly of sole practitioners or small practices. So, bringing all these stakeholders together is challenging. Scaling practices and making multi-disciplinary have a lot of benefits when done correctly. Primary care is, in our opinion, the only element in the healthcare system where economies of scale apply without too many adverse side effects.
When we look at secondary care, the image is different. The market comprises larger, specialised organisations like hospitals, clinics or rehabilitation centres. Many of the organisations providing secondary care are complex organisations. Collaboration between two or more complex organisations creates additional complexity. Therefore, we believe a multi-disciplinary approach is necessary to reduce complexity while maximising the collaboration effects.
There are situations where further collaboration between healthcare providers creates no added value. Moreover, in some cases, the value for patients is destroyed because the adverse effects are more significant than the advantages of the collaboration.
How we help healthcare providers to collaborate
Healthcare providers can collaborate in many ways. These ways are not all equally effective. A question about collaboration in healthcare that is often too obvious to discuss in detail is the outcome of the partnership. How do all involved stakeholders benefit from the collaboration? We believe it is essential to involve all stakeholders in an early stage.
The second step in the process is to look at the collaboration format. Do we need to merge? Do we need to set up a different entity as a joint venture? Or is an agreement between the parties sufficient? A question often overlooked: how do we get out of the collaboration? We are ready to implement the collaboration once all these questions and many more are cleared out.
Implementations of collaboration are often underestimated. How difficult can it be to collaborate? We collaborate every day with a lot of different people. So why do we need to implement collaborations? This is the essence of successful collaborations. We try to take the assumptions out of the equations where we can and align the assumptions where we can’t.
We believe it is crucial to approach collaborations in healthcare with a multi-disciplinary team. This approach allows us to assist healthcare providers in any aspect of the process in the best possible way: stakeholder management, process management, governance, legal, etc.