At this risk of entertaining numerous strategic partnership requests following the publication of this blog, I want to explore the benefits of partnerships that may or may not have financial benefits, yet bring the strengths of two or more parties together for the greater good.

What has me thinking of partnerships in general is the soon-to-be launched integrated primary care clinic our PO is opening at the Warren location of the Judson Center. Judson Center provides autism programs, behavioral health services, child and family services including foster care and adoption, and disability support services throughout Southeast Michigan. With the opening of the clinic, they can add primary care to these services, switching up the converse trend of bringing behavioral health into primary care and at the same time supporting the State’s Section 298 initiative to better coordinate physical and behavioral health services.

We first became acquainted with Judson’s work through collective efforts to expand the PCMH neighborhood. At the same time, we were getting to know each other as participants in Oakland County’s ECHO program, one of the best regional examples of a community health-based strategic alliance I have ever experienced. Judson approached us to jointly apply for a health and well-being grant. While the first grant request was not accepted, a second joint grant application request for the integrated behavior health clinic model was approved by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund; the clinic is slated for opening in January 2019.

Healthcare organizations are uniquely positioned to enter into strategic partnerships with each other as well as community-based organizations that comprise the PCMH-N. When vital prevention program knowledge is available through healthcare organizations, it’s often critical to partner with a group that is already in the community trenches. The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, for example, offers rehabilitation services through the DMC’s Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan to facilitate the rehabilitation process for those recovering from a serious illness or injury. Our organization has a partnership with (Detroit) Central City Integrated Health to provide diabetes prevention programs. The Michigan Osteopathic Association is working with Michigan Health Information Network to help physician practices update their technology and data and information sharing. It’s not a moneymaker, it’s an effort to capture information that can be shared to improve patient outcomes and cost efficiencies through avoidance of duplicate testing and access to the tech tools physicians need to practice the 21st century model of medicine.

In 2017, several Michigan POs, including MedNetOne, created an independent physician organization alliance, Michigan Providers of Healthcare Services (MiPHCS) to not only share best practices but to create economies of scale in dealing with some of the large payors. While the fledgling partnership may be greeted with skepticism by some, it’s a new day in healthcare and organizations who continue to go it alone in all their initiatives may find themselves redundant, eclipsed by progressive organizations that see strategic partnerships as the best means to meet both patient-centric and community goals and sustain financial viability as well.

MiPHCS also responds to gripes that Michigan insurers are going out of state to select vendors for Michigan-based health programming. Complaining without offering solutions is a sign of weak leadership. MiPHCS offers just one example of a local solution that can impact Michigan patient populations through program offerings including diabetes self-management, care management and other training and hands-on activities that enhance health and well-being.

When we enter and support strategic partnerships, we make it easier for Michigan payors and community-based organizations to reach their goal of a healthier Michigan. It is incumbent on us to consider what strategic partnerships may be best suited to our own organizations as we seek collaborative solutions for issues the healthcare community deeply cares about.