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Partnership between Tufts Medical Center and Brockton Hospital underway

Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Updated: Thursday, April 15, 2010 19:04

Tufts Medical Center

Tien Tien/Tufts Daily

Tufts Medical Center has entered into a new partnership with Brockton Hospital.

A clinical partnership between the Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital and Tufts Medical Center started last month with the intention of providing increased specialized care to the greater Brockton community.

Efforts have been made to expand the connected departments and programs since the new clinical affiliation was announced in December, according to Deborah Wilson, senior vice president of ambulatory services and patient relations at Brockton Hospital.

The community-based teaching hospital is the most recent partner of Tufts Medical, which currently has affiliations with a number of area hospitals, including Winchester Hospital in Winchester and Jordan Hospital in Plymouth.

Brockton Hospital provides the first line of medical care accessible to its community members, according to Julie Jette, Tufts Medical's media relations manager. Tufts Medical differs from Brockton because as an academic medical center, it provides more specialized high-level treatment.

The new partnership, which includes Tufts Medical's Floating Hospital for Children, is an extension of the existing long-term relationship between the two institutions, which have been affiliated for approximately 30 years. "We've had a teaching relationship with them for a very long time," Jette said.

Jette explained that the partnership allows specialists from Tufts Medical to provide care to patients at Brockton, who will in turn consider future tertiary treatment at Tufts Medical should the need arise.

"It is establishing a two-way partnership," Jette said. "We hope that we can provide a slightly more specialized level of care in the community and help the hospitals deliver that level of care, and when their patients really need high-level tertiary care, we hope that they will refer their patients to us."

Wilson said this consolidation of medical services is useful to patients.

"It avoids the time and cost of going into Boston, and it's beneficial to us because we can have further relations with the physicians from Tufts Medical Center as they're rotating through our site and taking care of our patients," Wilson told the Daily.

Jette explained that this and the other partnerships Tufts Medical has formed are an embodiment of the Distributed Academic Medical Center model, which strives to keep medical care in the local area.

The Tufts model differs from that of other academic medical centers, many of which attempt to use the model to bring all care to the hospital center. "We are really committed to enabling our partners to keep care in the community," Jette said.

The Distributed Academic Medical Center model was a major impetus for the partnership, according to Wilson. "We decided that it was our desire to be a high-quality, low-cost, community-based hospital system," Wilson said.

Jette added that other benefits of centralized and coordinated healthcare through such partnerships include stronger communication between institutions regarding patient care and lower costs.

"If we're communicating very well within these networks, then we will eliminate repetition and waste," Jette said. "It's about creating a network of providers that will be able to work closely together to provide coordinated care to patients."

Media and Public Relations Coordinator for Signature Healthcare Rachel Labas said that health care reform's effects on insurance policies also promote a larger network of care. As Tufts Medical is a larger institution, a partnership grants Brockton Hospital greater negotiation power with insurance companies.

"Partnering with Tufts puts us in a better position to negotiate rates with insurance companies and make sure that we're paid fairly for all the services we're providing," Labas told the Daily. "Being able to negotiate the best rates helps out the organization as a whole."

Jette said that Tufts Medical and Brockton Hospital are in the process of expanding their connected programs.

"We brought Tufts specialists to Brockton for cardiac electrophysiology services, and then we also anticipate having sports medicines doctors come in May, and then pediatric, orthopedics and bariatric to follow in the summer," Labas said.

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