To improve volume, Shownkeen and Ruth Colby, Silver Cross' chief strategy officer and senior vice president of business development, hit the road, visiting emergency departments and neurology groups to show what Silver Cross could now offer. Shownkeen also put together an annual conference offering CME credits. Pawlak says 400–500 people show up. "It's another way of letting the community know what we can do. He is masterful at including other physicians."
The effort is paying off. In its first year of operation, Colby says Silver Cross had 105 patients in its new lab. Volume has now doubled and is continuing to grow. Silver Cross has also since earned primary stroke certification.
Another byproduct of a partnership strategy is that Silver Cross does not employ many physicians. "We only employ 10 doctors," Pawlak says. That approach, he says, attracts the physicians who want to remain independent but still have access to expert programs in the primary hospital.
Colby's advice to hospital executives is straightforward: Know your weaknesses; don't ignore them. "We felt we weren't the best in certain areas, such as oncology, neuroscience, and rehabilitation," she says. "If you can't be the best on your own, then bring someone in."
Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.