MaryBeth Matzek: More hospitals seek out partners

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.

Economic pressures, rising costs and lower reimbursement rates may soon make small, independent hospitals a thing of the past.

In recent years, several small health systems and hospitals across Wisconsin have teamed up with their larger neighbors as they seek to stay competitive.

It’s definitely a trend Dr. Dean Gruner, president and CEO of Appleton-based ThedaCare, has noticed. ThedaCare signed affiliation agreements with Shawano Medical Center in 2011 and Wild Rose Community Medical Center and Community Health Network, the owner of Berlin Medical Center, earlier this year.

“There are four or five reasons that smaller hospitals are looking for larger partners, but overall we’re all dealing with a changing marketplace,” he says.

That changing marketplace is one where there are more outpatient procedures and increased use of more expensive technology, including electronic medical records. Medicare and insurers have also lowered their reimbursement rates, which has increased financial pressures on hospitals.

Read the full column for more