I recently participated in the 20th Anniversary celebration of Independent Hospital Network (IHN), a consortium of five hospitals spread across four counties in Central Ohio at their celebratory meeting in Columbus. The IHN is composed of five independent not-for-profit hospitals who realized, more than 20 years ago, that only by standing together can they survive the tsunami of change that characterizes our healthcare system. They truly have been ahead of the curve in many respects. Based on key core values, including the maintenance of local control and their not-for-profit status, these five independent hospitals have been sharing information and benchmarking local best practices for many years.
Each year they bring together their leadership teams and local boards to celebrate the gains and plan for the future. In my role as the opening plenary speaker, I challenged the audience on two key issues. 1) Physician leadership cannot be assumed—meaning, they must set aside the resources to create a physician leadership class for the future. 2) Under reform, the fiduciary responsibility of the board expands outside the four walls of the hospital and requires that they venture into the community to work in all kinds of settings, including, for example, the local school system or YMCA. My message seemed to resonate with the attendees who included hospital leaders, board members, and clinical leaders.
In addition to this annual celebration, IHN regularly supports a comprehensive leadership development program that includes their local leadership exchange, management groups, and even a network college; one year, they had over 280 participants. IHN has also been building a clinically integrated network they call their Integrated Health Collaborative.
Will IHN serve as a potential national model, demonstrating how independent not-for-profit hospitals might survive oncoming changes like MACRA and bundled payment? All eyes are on Ohio as IHN demonstrates that leadership and attention to culture remain the key predictive variables for success. Special kudos to Aultman Health Foundation’s Kevin Pete, and Courtney Coleman for spearheading efforts to organize this amazing conference. This platinum anniversary celebration sure left me feeling inspired!