Darlene D. Bainbridge and Associates, Inc








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Network Development

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.

Frank A. Clark

Healthcare networks can strengthen a local rural healthcare delivery system. As the healthcare dollar continues to shrink and resources become scarcer, networking amongst rural healthcare providers can offer tangible solutions to a number of issues. For some rural healthcare providers, networking will not simply be a good idea, it will be a necessity. Often, rural healthcare providers are only able to survive by weaving a complex network of relationships and affiliations. By working together, organizations can create economies of scale and serious financial efficiencies.

The success of a network is largely dependent on the level of trust among the members, the propensity of the individual members to cooperate and the strengths and weaknesses of the network as a whole. The four greatest challenges in building a successful network are building and sustaining member interest, building trust among members, balancing strategy and action and making decisions and reaching conclusions.

This is an era of uncertainty for both healthcare organizations and networks. As the leadership of healthcare organizations struggle with the future for their organizations, the leaders of networks search for common ground and opportunities to be a resource to its members. The publication, The Future of Leadership: Riding the Corporate Rapids into the 21st Century, summarizes the role of network leadership well, “The leader’s role is to identify productive areas of uncertainty and confusion and to lead the organization into those areas to gain competitive (or other kinds of ) advantage.” Out of all this uncertainty and ambiguity comes opportunity for individuals and organizations who are willing to take the risk of sharing and leave old assumptions behind.

Cost savings is often the leading incentive for networks to develop. In today’s environment of shrinking resources, more organizations are looking to networking opportunities to help them fill in the gaps. Shared services and resources allow members to maximize resources, achieve economies of scale, reduce costs and continue the delivery of quality patient care. Shared service contracts and joint ventures can provide individual network members with positions of leverage that they would not be able to achieve on their own.

Cooperation is at the core of a successful network and the primary factor that complicates strategic planning for networks. Network boards are typically made up of the chief executive officers of member organizations. As these individuals work to be good leaders, they are faced with balancing the interests of their own organizations with the interests of the network as a whole. Because their organizations represents both the owner as a network member and the customer as the individual facility of any services that the network might offer, board members often evaluate business opportunities differently. The dual role that organizations represent at the boardroom table represent both opportunities and threats to the business planning of the network.

Substantial roadblocks stand in the way for many rural healthcare networks. Successful networking and network development rely on finding common ground and goals that the member organizations can share in. Effective strategic management are crucial to success.


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Darlene Bainbridge and Associates, Inc

D.D. Bainbridge & Associates, Inc.
595 Lyndon Center Road - Cuba, NY, 14727 US





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