Healthcare providers across the nation are searching for better ways to deliver quality care at an affordable cost. As the $2.8 trillion healthcare sector adapts to continued rapid transformation in the industry, many hospitals have found there is little more cost efficiency to be gained in their existing operations.

Meanwhile, as healthcare coverage expands, cuts sustained by hospitals as a result of the Affordable Care Act have created an even greater urgency to identify additional cost savings. Solutions to the challenge have varied widely — from cutting services and staff to merging with others — and the reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to managing costs. With this in mind, Novant Health designed its own solution to the cost-savings challenge — a solution that retains local ownership and autonomy, yet leverages the strength of a large system to lower costs and improve patient care.

Formed in 2012, Novant Health Shared Services takes the business model most commonly known for consolidating the finance function to support the enterprise organization versus individual business units and applies it to help hospitals retain local ownership and autonomy. The expansion of this business model is done while gaining efficiency and lowering costs.

With a menu of offerings, Novant Health Shared Services offers its partners access to best practices, economies of scale, operational efficiencies and key learnings — all adding to lower costs for the partner while improving patient care.

Facing headwinds, many local hospitals are at a crossroads of continuing their mission and cutting services to lower costs. Through strategic collaboration with partners, Shared Services improves patient care while reducing costs.

With active shared services and management agreements, Novant Health has identified more than $25 million in annual operational synergies across its partner hospitals. In addition, these partnerships have allowed Novant Health to provide consultation and best practice sharing in corporate and clinical areas such as clinical engineering, supply chain, human resources, regulatory, strategic planning, quality improvement and revenue cycle.

Through Novant Health Shared Services, innovative partnership models are designed to preserve local ownership and autonomy, provide access to corporate resources and expertise, improve operational efficiencies through leveraging the size and scale of Novant Health, and create opportunities for best practice collaboration across a wide network of healthcare providers. The key to Shared Services is the flexibility of the models available — what may work for one community hospital may not work for another. Partnership agreements can include full management, supply chain opportunities, clinical engineering, information technology, clinical excellence and growth opportunities.

In today’s dynamic economic climate, partnerships have become more important than ever. The challenges of the healthcare industry will continue to demand that innovative partnership models become an integral part of the ongoing conversation.