The walls of competition are crumbling in health care, as rivals come together around everything from large-scale regional collaboratives, to even just a small kidney transplant for three patients. That was the case in Southeast Michigan, where three health systems — Beaumont, Henry Ford and University of Michigan — combined to help a triplet of patients in need. Each individual required a transplant and had a donor lined up, but one who wasn’t a match. So, the three networks, located in Royal Oak, Detroit and Ann Arbor, respectively, “swapped” organs among donors in a way that they did match to make the transplant possible. The procedure took place this past July and required two months of planning. This fall the entire group of six finally met face to face for the first time. Such swaps aren’t unusual, as some 4,000 patients in the U.S. have taken part since the practice began in the early 2000s, but they rarely involve three separate but competing systems. John Magee, M.D., transplant surgeon and director of University of Michigan Transplant center, says the successful exchange speaks to the power of such collaboration. If available, they would’ve even added a fourth. “It’s not all about competition,” he says. “In the end, we all benefited from this.” 
—Marty Stempniak