Not Just a Name on the Door: Building Meaningful National, International Relationships
In the last 18 months, the newly formed BWHC Business Development team has been busy assessing potential collaborations with organizations around the world that will enable the hospital’s unique expertise to benefit countless patients in new ways. These relationships are also an important means of generating new sources of revenue, a vital part of BWHC’s institutional strategy to help ensure financial stability at a time when health care organizations are faced with constant pressures to cut costs.
Mark A. Davis, MD, MS, executive director for Strategic Initiatives and Business Development, gave BWH Bulletin an inside look at the work that he and Chief Business Development Officer Steven Thompson, MBA, are doing to help BWH promote both “mission and margin” objectives.
How do you determine which relationships are right for BWH?
We are a charitable, mission-based organization that puts patients first. We apply the same principles when we decide how to work nationally and internationally. The opportunities we participate in must improve the way our collaborators deliver care to their patients, share best practices and research protocols and, if needed, transfer highly complex patients to BWHC. These guiding principles exemplify our joint mission and margin approach to growth.
Can you provide an example?
As a result of our relationship with Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre, construction is underway for the island’s first radiation oncology facility. This means that residents of Bermuda will no longer need to fly elsewhere to receive treatment. Our world-class Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Radiation Oncology group, as well as their expert colleagues in Oncology and Urology, are working closely with clinicians on the island to ensure the best possible care is delivered at this new facility. Patients with the most complex needs who cannot receive local treatment can be seamlessly transferred to DF/BWCC for the highly specialized care we provide here.
Do you ever decline opportunities for collaboration?
Absolutely. Each opportunity must be aligned strategically with BWHC’s priorities for the future. Deals that are a no-go may seem fantastic on paper in every way except one—they’re not consistent with our mission.
You mentioned Bermuda. Where else are we forging relationships?
Our Pediatric Newborn Medicine team is exploring the development of a program focused on high-risk fetal and newborn medicine in Florida. We are also now entering the first phase of work with the Evergrande Health Industry Group in China, which will be building a hospital that will be the flagship of a new health care system. Additionally, we are considering a number of other opportunities in various places, including Asia, the Middle East and South America. In many cases, these potential partners wish to build or augment their local capabilities.
Tell us more about the relationship with Evergrande.
Evergrande is the second-largest real estate group in China, and it recently expanded into health care. Evergrande leaders approached us about joining as strategic advisors to help guide them as they seek to ultimately build a network of hospitals and web-based patient support systems. This includes new technologies that will enable BWHC staff to remotely provide second opinions on complex medical conditions to patients through their local physicians.
Why is collaborating with a real estate group the right fit for BWH?
We are actually working with the health care company that is part of that group. The relationship utilizes their experience with development in China and our expertise in health care delivery and research to improve health in China. There’s a real need to advance the health care system in China. It’s not uncommon to see hundreds of patients lined up to literally spend just a minute or two seeing a doctor. They get a quick opinion, and the doctor has to move on because of that tremendous volume of patients. We want to be part of a relationship that will help evolve that system with committed local collaborators. We’ve had very open conversations with Evergrande leadership about the purpose of our agreement before we began. We both agreed that BWHC’s role is to help them create a system of hospitals grounded in evidence-based practices.
Who from BWH will be involved?
Our administrators, physicians, nurses, scientists and many other staff will have the opportunity to teach and learn as this relationship evolves in many elements—academic, clinical development and appropriate transfer of patients to BWHC. We will have a true exchange of ideas and visits with health care professionals from China as the next phases of work get underway. I have no doubt that each side will learn from the other.
What opportunities are there for research?
When Evergrande builds its first hospital, the plan is to construct a co-located research facility. You can imagine the tremendous innovation that will result. The diagnostics and therapeutics will be cutting-edge. We will be working closely with the hospital and leading academic institutions in China on research and clinical care.
How can people get involved with the work you’re doing?
Given the talents of our staff here at the Brigham, we want to involve as many people as possible. The idea of business development is to harness the creative ideas of all of our talented staff members, along with our collective national and international contacts, and build relationships that advance our mission while supporting our margin. I encourage staff to reach out to me directly with ideas and questions.
What are you most excited about?
I’ve been at BWH for almost 20 years, and this is truly an extraordinary time. We are limited only by our ability to think differently. The traditional ways of operating give us a foundation upon which to build, but now is the time to evolve our approach so we can ensure the Brigham will thrive and continue to advance health for generations to come.
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