Have you noticed where certain high-profile, nationally acclaimed healthcare facilities are partnering with local medical centers? In the last few years, I've read where the Cleveland Clinic (#1 for cardiac care) and a healthcare facility in Atlanta joined forces.  In 2013, Houston-based MD Anderson Cancer Center lent its name to Cooper University Medical Center in Camden.  More recently, Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City has agreed to establish a relationship with Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown.

From a business perspective, it's a smart move for a local or regional hospital to associate with the MD Andersons or Sloan Ketterings of the world. After all, their brand is well known and (depending on who you ask) #1 and #2 for cancer treatment.  If you're Lehigh Valley, you just 'upped your game.'  

From a clinical perspective, for a physician, I imagine it's a 'shot in the arm.' For an oncologist on the front lines, fighting cancer every day on behalf of their patients has got to wear you down.  But now having access to other physician colleagues who are at the top of their game, so to speak, who are doing the cutting edge research and clinical trials and maybe someday curing cancer has GOT to put a spring in their step.

And as a patient, what does it mean? From a clinical perspective, it could mean wonderful things as now perhaps a clinical trial may be available at their local treating facility.  Or, their local oncologist can easily consult with a top-notch colleague and perhaps that results in a change in a treatment plan.  But they're still driving to the same local facility.  And when you're getting treated for cancer, that 'local' feel can be important.

But one question which remains, and stay tuned for more information, is how a local insurance company will reimburse the local hospital for the care. Insurance companies negotiate contracts with facilities and no doubt, having a relationship with Sloan Kettering or an MD Anderson might increase the amount of charges the local hospital is submitting.  (Someone has to pay for the MD Anderson sign!)  It is a fact that in some of the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges the Centers of Excellence (like Sloan and MD Anderson or Dana Farber) are carved out and not available to patients. I wonder if this gets around that hurdle.

All this negotiating and marketing and branding of healthcare facilities makes me glad I'm working for Guardian Nurses.