"Furthermore, Tift Regional Health System is currently actively seeking a new COO through the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. Given the operational changes associated with this alliance, the announcement may have been made rapidly so that progress would be underway before the installation of a new COO. Tift is operating from a position of strength, as it held $336 million in net assets at the end of 2012, $42 million of which had been accumulated during the year. Participating offers it the opportunity to continue its success," Powell wrote.
Saunders says she expects that Stratus will evolve to include more operational initiatives, and grow to include more hospitals in the coming years.
"What I see in terms of strengthening the partnership is a slight movement from non-equity partnership to some shared equity, but not quite mergers and acquisitions," she says. "We may find some projects we want to invest in together. Now we are pooling resources specific to hospitals to meet the particular needs of that particular area or population. That is where I begin to see this sharing, which is joint projects, joint investments, joint collaboratives, with equity associated with it. As we are able to formulate systems of care that not only connect hospitals but also the post-acute and retail side, the outpatient ambulatory side, then it begins to define itself differently and it will be open to many other arrangements."
While plans are underway to form a group purchasing agreement, Saunders says there are no immediate plans to use the clout of the partnership to barter for better rates with health insurance providers.