"Chicago is really turning fast to consolidation," Doyle said. "I don't think there are many stand-alone hospitals left thinking they are going to survive. We've hit a tipping point in the last couple of years. In a way, that is late considering what has been happening in the rest of the country, but I don't think it can be reversed now."
Doyle said that in his opinion stand-alone hospitals are "chum for the big systems."
"We can exist and thrive, but we can't really compete," he added. "Strategically, the game is getting bigger, at least in Chicago."
Despite Doyle's doomsday words, the other panelists took a more optimistic approach to their future, saying their organizations can offer one critical element that the big systems can't: personalized care.
"Enloe Medical Center is celebrating its centennial year. … That ought to tell you something about the community pride that exists around the services we are able to provide," Machula said.
"I think healthcare in America is still personal, and people prefer to have a personal relationship with their providers. I think we can offer [that]," Dupper said. "In 10 years, the people we serve are still going to want us to provide high-quality care, good outcomes, and personal relationships with their providers, I can tell you that."