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the hospital merger wave, Akron General's acquisition by the Tennessee based for-profit Community Health Systems and not-for-profit Cleveland Clinic, underscores the message that bigness is necessary to survive in the current climate of health care.
This was also recently affirmed by the announced partnership between Akron's Summa Health Systems in which Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners has acquired a 30 percent stake in Summa.
Driving the bigness trend is better leverage in buying equipment and supplies to better take advantge of rapidly changing technology which is affecting medicine profoundly, sharing advertising costs by co-branding, and, perhaps most important, enhancing the ability of the hospitals to acquire physician practices, especially family oriented practices since they form the gatekeeper network that refers patients to all hospitals which require a steady revenue stream to support the high overheads they must care.
Portage County will not escape these changes. Traditionally, its most important healthcare provider has been Robinson Memorial Hospital, a county owned venture that is in the process of becoming a not-for-profit operation in order to escape the hurdles county-owned status sets up and, as one of a dwindling number of independent hospitals, is seeking a partnership that will enable it to remain financially strong and continue its role as an important acute care health provider for the residents of Portage County.
The world of health care is changing and the patterns of health care we in Portage County have grown accustomed to are going to change too.