TAMPA — Two major area hospital groups announced today they will team up on future projects.
Florida Hospital, with six area facilities, and Tampa General Hospital will each invest $1 million to launch a collaboration on new clinical programs and services in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties and western Polk County.
“This important step will help Tampa General Hospital and Florida Hospital Tampa change the way they provide health care,” said David Straz, chairman of the Tampa General board of directors, which approved the deal in a meeting this morning.
The announcement is not an operational merger or a sale, a trend among local hospitals the past few years. Tampa General and Florida Hospital’s six area facilities will continue to operate independently.
But the two entities will use their combined strength to compete for the attention of residents needing primary, outpatient and acute care, said Mike Schultz, president and chief executive officer of Florida Hospital’s Tampa Bay network. Operating otherwise is financially unsustainable, he said.
“The day is over when everybody is trying to duplicate services,” said Schultz, who oversee facilities in Tarpon Springs, Wesley Chapel, Land O’ Lakes, Carrollwood and Tampa, where Florida Hospital Tampa and Pepin Heart Institute are based.
The potential projects mentioned today reflect the dramatic national shift in health care industry economics. Ventures, such as rehabilitation centers, home health care services and expanded primary care physician networks, all focus on services and treatments done outside the four walls of a hospital.
Hospitals are no longer being reimbursed for the number of treatments or services they provide. Now, insurance companies and government program reimbursements are paid in bulk, and are based on a patient’s overall health. Future endeavors must reflect that, said Jim Burkhart, Tampa General president and CEO.
How much each hospital invests in future endeavors will depend on geography and specialties, Burkhart said. For example, a one-stop primary care facility in downtown Tampa may involve a bigger stake by Tampa General, while Florida Hospital may take the lead in long-term acute care — a specialty in which it already operates a hospital.
“You want to keep the patient well and keep them in the lowest-cost situation,” he said.
Tampa General’s 1,018-bed facility in downtown Tampa is the last major independent hospital in the area. It also is home to one of the country’s busiest organ transplant programs. By contrast, the local Florida Hospital facilities combine for 935 patient beds.
Burkhart said his single downtown Level-1 trauma center will expand its footprint by teaming with the local Florida Hospital network. The hospitals since 2010 have been part of the Adventist Health System, which includes hospitals in 11 states.
The consolidation of brand names also will help the two nonprofit hospitals compete against larger, still-growing hospital groups.
BayCare Health System, with 11 area hospitals and nearly 40 percent of the hospital market, just completed its consolidation with Winter Haven Hospital. Health Management Associates bought St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Hospital and made it the flagship of its regional hospital system. And HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest hospital chain, this summer added three more facilities to its network of 16 local hospitals.