The two hospitals have formed a “center of excellence” alliance, which means they will collaborate on new opportunities to advance patient care, improve patient access to top rehabilitation services and share best practices with health care providers.
“Given the variety of aspects of health care reform, interest in our networks among health exchange plans and more of a focus on outcomes and performance-based incentives, it seemed natural that the two most specialized research facilities in the country joined forces to collaborate on clinical best practices and evolving programs and services that benefit these two patient populations,” said Mitch Fillhaber, Shepherd Center’s senior vice president of corporate development.
He said although there are between 1,100 and 1,200 rehabilitation hospitals and units around the country, Shepherd and Craig are the only two that principally specialize in rehabilitation for spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. The two facilities treat the highest concentrations of those types of patients, Fillhaber said.
He said as far as he knows this is the first alliance of its kind in the rehabilitation community.
“We’ve sort of come full circle,” Fillhaber said. “Craig Hospital is where our founder, James Shepherd, was treated after his bodysurfing accident in Rio de Janeiro [in 1973]. So that was 40-plus years ago, and now we’re partnering with the facility that James did his rehab in. We’ve always continued to have tight bonds with them, and now in the era of partnerships, it makes sense for us to take that a step further.”
Mike Fordyce, president and CEO of Craig, also commented about the link between the two facilities in a news release.
“Craig Hospital and Shepherd Center have always had close ties,” he said. “This new alliance is focused on enhancing patient outcomes and capturing operational efficiencies that will assist us in continuing to set the bar for rehabilitation for those affected by catastrophic spinal cord and brain injuries.”
Both hospitals will maintain their individual institutions but will align their practice patterns, pool their existing resources and jointly create new resources like mobile apps and web-based programs to reach out to patients.
“The one thing that Shepherd and Craig have in common is that half our patients come from outside of our home bases in Colorado and Georgia,” Fillhaber said.
“So it has intensified the need for us to manage patients remotely and partner with their local referring hospitals to make sure that their outcomes are durable and that they remain in their local communities, return to work and school and are as successful as possible given the catastrophic nature of their injuries and illnesses.”
Said Fordyce, “These are lifelong conditions. This approach can ultimately help prevent re-hospitalizations and give patients and families greater confidence when returning home.”
The alliance will also provide research opportunities and launch an education program to train providers at other rehabilitation facilities and medical centers. The collaboration was spurred in part by the federal Affordable Care Act, which has prompted the realignment of networks as well as a focus on preventing hospital readmissions.