Vanderbilt Medical Center has entered a rare relationship with another university hospital. The University of Mississippi Medical Center is the only academic medical center in Mississippi. It's a first for both schools, even though the campuses have not spelled out all the ways they plan to join forces.
The pairing up is pushed by a number of trends in health care. There's been a flurry of high-profile mergers as the industry currently rewards size, which Vanderbilt Medical Center has.
With 22,000 employees, the hospital system is more than twice as big as the University of Mississippi Medical Center. CEO Charles O'Mara says he hopes linking up with Vanderbilt will help him get better deals on supplies by buying in bulk. He also says the partnership could have marketing benefits in Mississippi.
"The Vanderbilt name — of course — carries great respect across the country, and we're honored to be in a collaborative relationship," he says.
O'Mara says he wants to learn from Vanderbilt's experience building a network of regional offices and walk-in clinics. The University of Mississippi is trying to expand beyond its campus in Jackson.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt has ambitions to become a regional player, and the arrangement provides a new link with an entire state since UMMC has the only level 1 trauma center and the only children's hospital in Mississippi. Vanderbilt also wants to harvest ideas from UMMC, pointing to its success remotely monitoring chronically ill patients in far-flung parts of the state.
It's those chronic conditions where the universities say they expect to collaborate on research. They note that both Tennessee and Mississippi share the same health challenges, like high rates of smoking, hypertension and diabetes.
“Year after year, southern states consistently rank near the bottom in the nation for certain health and wellness metrics. This agreement creates opportunities for our organizations to develop programs and services that will benefit the communities we serve while advancing our mission to improve the health of citizens who live throughout the Southeast,” VUMC CEO Wright Pinson said in a statement.