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Know Your Partners, Know Your Goals in Joint Ventures Between Hospitals and Universities

Know Your Partners, Know Your Goals in Joint Ventures Between Hospitals and Universities

WASHINGTON--Joint ventures between community hospitals and university
departments of oncology can offer significant benefits to both,
but not unless all parties involved understand one another and
formulate a well thought out program.

David A. Gift, MS, delivered that message with strong emphasis
during the Association of Community Cancer Center's annual national
meeting. Vital to the success of such joint ventures is a clear
understanding of the reasons for forming them, said Mr. Gift,
executive administrator for strategy and management, Department
of Radiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing.

"One of the greatest reasons for failure in business in general
is that the partners didn't really know why they wanted to do
it," he said.

Another problem lies in establishing the value of each partner's
equity contribution to the venture and honoring that contribution
throughout all dealings. "In these competitive times, within
any one community or region, frequently the collaborators within
the alliance are competitors in lots of other ways," he said.
"The easiest way to solve that problem is for each to relate
fairly to each other."

Mr. Gift, who helped put together a joint venture in radiation
oncology among Michigan State, the University of Michigan, and
the Michigan Capital Medical Center in Lansing, offered a list
of pitfalls confronting those who wish to form a community hospital-university
partnership, including:

The business plan--Success depends on creating a careful,
definitive business plan based on the market potential and a knowledge
of the partners' strengths and weaknesses, and doing it from the
start.

"This is critical; you want to know what you are getting
into," Mr. Gift said. "If you're doing things in-house
and make a few mistakes in details, that's not such a bad thing
to solve. If you make mistakes in an alliance relationship, that
can lead to some big problems." A good plan also serves as
a management tool. "It sets the targets for operation,"
he said.

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