Berger Health System is exploring a phased approach to a strategic partnership with a health system in the region.

Berger’s Board of Governors and leadership team will spend the next several months evaluating what could be accomplished for local patients and the community by working in concert with a partner.

“The business of running hospitals is being turned upside down. The models that have enabled Berger – and every other hospital in the nation – to thrive for so long are being upended,” said Mark Leatherwood, vice chair, Berger Board of Governors.  “This is an important moment in the life of our great organization and we want to continue to engage all the people who depend on us as we explore solutions that will provide the highest quality care to our community,” states board member Pam Mets. “Clinical and operational excellence will best position Berger and Pickaway County for continued success in the future,” adds Mets, who is chair of the board quality committee.

Berger’s board and leadership are taking action by issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) that outlines the objectives the health system seeks to achieve through a phased approach to a strategic partnership for Berger and the community. During Phase I, Berger will be focused on pursuing strategic business opportunities with a single partner, while remaining independent.

“Ensuring that Berger will thrive and be here to provide exceptional, affordable care to the families in our community for decades to come is our top priority,” said Tim Colburn, president and CEO of Berger Health System.

A new partnership model will strengthen local healthcare and Pickaway County. Benefits to residents and the community might include, among other things.

  • More local primary care physicians, because people want to receive care close to where they live;
  • Additional clinical services offered locally, because our community is growing and their healthcare needs are changing.
  • Enhanced access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology, because it leads to better care for our patients.
  • Leveraging a partnership to improve efficiencies and reduce operating costs, because when Berger – the largest employer in the county – is strong, local jobs and the economy are more secure.

Why Berger Is Pursuing a Strategic Partnership         

“The business environment for hospitals today is changing and Berger has been candid about the difficulties it could face in future years if it does not explore strategic initiatives for growth and sustainability,” said David M. Crawford, president of Circleville City Council. “City council is supportive of the proactive and measured approach Berger is taking to seek short and long-term solutions that can enhance access to quality patient care and ensure Berger’s continued presence in our community for many years to come.”

The current climate of the healthcare industry has resulted in a complex set of challenges for hospitals and health systems nationwide and Pickaway County. These challenges are very real and include:

  • A focus on keeping people healthy instead of treating illnesses.
  • A shift in how providers are paid – moving from payment for care delivered to payment for patient outcomes.
  • The need for hospitals and providers to work more collaboratively to improve both quality and efficiency of healthcare provided.
  • Increased investments to comply with mandates – such as technology investments to comply with new electronic health record requirements.

“Given these regional and national challenges – both today and tomorrow – it’s important that Berger pursues long-term opportunities while we are still in a position of strength. Our action today is different from years past because we’ve had consistent input from providers and community leaders about our business well before this process was ever contemplated,” said Colburn. “This phased approach to the search for a strategic partner is the direct result of engaging in those discussions about our future.”

Berger has a history of being collaborative with other health systems but it is becoming increasingly necessary for hospitals to work together more closely.

“As Berger’s board and leadership explore solutions that will enable the system and the community to evolve and thrive in the future, I am excited about the possibilities a new partnership model might bring to our community and I’m confident that Berger’s board will continue to engage us all in the process,” said Pickaway County Commissioner Jay Wippel.

“Together with our employees, physicians and advanced practice providers, Berger will continue to enhance the care provided to our community as we always have – this will not change with any future direction we consider,” Colburn said.